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Atrium Health’s quick turnaround allowed for digital innovation during the pandemic

While 2020 shook up the entire workforce, it was perhaps most evident in the healthcare world. The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges that propelled the healthcare world to adopt new technologies.

Next week HIMSS is releasing new survey data on the future of health. Speaking at HIMSS’ State of Healthcare event on June 15 is Dr. Scott Rissmiller, EVP and chief physician executive at Atrium Health.

During the pandemic, Rissmiller and his team were left with a number of challenges: creating capacity in the hospital during a pandemic, keeping clinicians safe with PPE and testing, and focusing on vulnerable communities.

The team needed to transform its workflow fast. The CEO of Atrium told Rissmiller to “do what you need to do” to unleash innovation and take care of the team.

This allowed healthcare leaders to quickly innovate and come up with new ideas to tackle the issues. In less than three weeks the clinicians were able to plan out Atrium Virtual Health at Home. As part of this new program, patients can use connected devices that can transmit data to smartphones and connect to the provider.

Virtual visits were huge, freeing up hospital space and protecting the providers.

“Like many, we flipped our ambulatory model to 75% of being virtual visits. In April in 2020, we were averaging 1,500 virtual visits per month,” Rissmiller said. “In the month of May, we did 130,000. So, from 1,500 to 130,000 in one month.”

Since the height of the pandemic, virtual visits have dropped. However, they have not returned to pre-pandemic numbers. Rissmiller said that as of today, the health service is conducting roughly 50,000 virtual visits per month.

“It really was focusing on virtual, unleashing the leaders in our organization, allowing them to be innovative and that laser focus around those few areas, focusing on capacity, caring for our community, the underserved – going directly to them, whether it be virtual or mobile, and caring for our team with PPE,” said Rissmiller.


HIMSS’ State of Healthcare will be taking place virutally on June 15 from 1pm to 2:30 pm CT. 

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