National Geriatric Network Rapidly Addresses Trainee Telehealth Needs in Response to COVID-19

Kathryn A. Nearing, Hillary D. Lum, Stuti Dang, Becky Powers, Jaye McLaren, Megan Gately, William Hung, Lauren Moo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has pushed many geriatric healthcare providers to attempt video visits for the first time. Although the Veterans Health Administration (VA) is a pioneer in telemedicine, rapid shifts to nearly exclusive use of telehealth for healthcare delivery and changes regarding trainee engagement in telehealth served as the impetus for rapidly assessing telehealth training needs. DESIGN: National needs assessment (online survey) of associated health trainees and medical fellows affiliated with Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Centers (GRECCs). SETTING: National GRECC network -- 20 VA centers of excellence focused on supporting Veterans as they age. Each GRECC is affiliated with a school of medicine at a major university. PARTICIPANTS: Trainees (n = 89) representing 12 disciplines. RESULTS: Two-thirds of participants had received some telehealth training. However, most had never done a video-to-home visit, and, regardless of telehealth experience, they reported low confidence. Based on open-ended questions exploring training needs, educational resources were rapidly developed and disseminated. INTERVENTION: Within 1 week of the assessment, a nuts-and-bolts guide regarding remote access, technology requirements, video-conferencing platforms, and managing emergencies was sent to the national network of GRECC associate directors for education for dissemination among discipline-specific training directors at their sites. This resource was subsequently submitted to the national VA COVID Strong Practices SharePoint site. An interdisciplinary team of geriatric specialists with extensive video-to-home experience also organized a national webinar that peaked at just over 700 participants. GRECC Connect, a network of geriatric specialty teams funded to improve care access for rural older veterans using telehealth and associated health training programs at each GRECC facilitated rapid development and dissemination of both resources. CONCLUSION: We quickly identified and responded to telehealth training needs of geriatrics trainees to optimize care for rural older adults as part of a rapid response to COVID-19. Although the webinar and nuts-and-bolts resources were developed within the VA context, they have demonstrated high demand and broader applicability. Results should continue to inform curriculum development efforts to address telehealth training gaps within and outside the VA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1907-1912
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume68
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • GRECC
  • telehealth
  • training
  • video-to-home visits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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