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iPads are essential health care tools in the fight against Covid-19

"The hearing-impaired find the device extremely helpful and offers a lot of trust and comfort," said Wren Lester, chief experience officer and director of patient relations at Downstate Medical Center. According to Lester, the hospital hopes to expand the program after the crisis.

Downstate does not currently use the technology for stationary virtual care like Mass General and others. The intensity of the coronavirus crisis in NYC left little time for employees to develop such a system. "The numbers have grown so rapidly that we have to change the [core aspects of our] process fairly regularly to cope with the increase in patients and to cope with the crisis," said Chief Information Officer Michele Scaggiante.

The rapid introduction of digital tools during the pandemic "will permanently change healthcare in the United States."

Dr. Lee Schwamm, Massachusetts General Hospital

Staff at the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, home to the city's first Covid-1

9 treatment center, initially turned to tablets and smartphones to connect patients with their loved ones brought after local officials had banned most of the hospital goers on March 14. Since then, the devices have been used for other purposes throughout the hospital, says Dr. Kathleen Jordan, vice president of the hospital.

"We recently looked at an end-of-life situation and I actually had a nice experience with a large family of multiple locations that could be virtually present," Jordan recalls. It was the first time the hospital had used such technology with such a large audience and in an end-of-life experience, she says.

Doctors in Saint Francis use the devices to examine patients in the hospital. Of course, there are still a lot of tests and procedures that need to be done in person, but for those that can be done remotely, many clinicians find virtual appointments that give them the opportunity to get to know the patients better, says Jordan.

In most hospitals, Covid 19 patients see few other people, all wrapped in masks, goggles, and gloves. "It's a very scary experience," says Mass General's sponge. "With the iPad device, they can verbally and comfortably interact with a nurse they can't touch, whose facial expression they can see now."

The introduction of inpatient telemedicine has also helped staff by increasing the number of care providers can, says Jordan at Saint Francis. Immunocompromised and other vulnerable providers who have been kept away from patients for self-protection purposes can now weigh remotely. Doctors who feel healthy but are quarantined due to exposure to Covid 19 can now also contribute, Jordan says, which helped the hospital avoid a serious shortage of staff.

In preparation for the influx of patients, Saint Francis has triggered an increase in the area as an extension of the hospital emergency room. The surgeon is not in the same area as the emergency room, but emergency physicians can make remote visits and consultations to the surgeon without leaving their posts.

“People have the idea that remote work is not really for clinicians, and I think that shows us something else,” says Juan Estrada, who oversees Virtual General's services at Mass General. He has been trying to get the technology into the hands of healthcare providers for years, but until recently says he has largely met with resistance.

“Changes are difficult in medicine. In the past, telemedicine was an exercise to get people to see how technology could make a difference, ”says Estrada. “We haven't really pushed in the past three weeks. We are being pulled. This huge community of providers is now demanding these solutions. It is amazing. “

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