From a Safe Distance: Remote Strategies for Addressing Patient Health Concerns During COVID-19

To provide optimal care from a safe distance during COVID-19, organizations are exploring alternative methods of assessing patient symptoms and alleviating concerns.


As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are experiencing anxiety and confusion as they closely monitor their health symptoms. Virtual visits are a valuable resource for providers to screen patients while avoiding the risk of exposure associated with a  traditional office visit. But health systems don’t always have the resources to schedule a virtual visit for every patient that might request one. To provide optimal care from a safe distance, organizations are exploring alternative methods of assessing patient symptoms and alleviating concerns. 

Here’s how several organizations are remotely triaging patient health concerns and determining whom to prioritize for virtual visits:

Community information hotlines

Berkshire Health System (Pittsfield, MA) implemented a COVID-19 information hotline. Individuals can call to discuss concerns, ask general questions, and receive the latest information regarding testing. The nurse-staffed hotline is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m-8 p.m. 

Due to an outpouring of local support, Mount Nittany Health System (State College, PA) set up a COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund to support their COVID-19 efforts. Mount Nittany used part of the funding to set up a hotline to answer questions from the community and stem the spread of misinformation surrounding COVID-19. 

Ozarks Medical Center (West Plains, MO) has also implemented a COVID-19 information hotline. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by nurses who can answer general COVID-19 questions, or triage the patient over the phone and make an appointment for them if they need to be formally tested. During the month of April alone, the hotline received over 1,500 calls. 

Prescreening tools

In addition to hosting a dedicated COVID-19 information hotline, Milford Regional Medical Center (Milford, MA) invites individuals experiencing symptoms to fill out an online COVID-19 screening form. Hospital staff assess symptoms indicated on the form and answer any questions an individual may have before recommending appropriate next steps.

Expanse Ambulatory customers using the MEDITECH Patient and Consumer Health Portal can send questionnaires to collect information and prescreen at-risk patients for COVID-19 before scheduling a virtual or in-person visit. Questionnaires can be sent via the Patient Portal or Patient Registries. Read MEDITECH’s Expanse COVID-19 Guidance for more information.

Stay up to date on other strategies MEDITECH customers are using to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.