• Providing support in a pandemic: A medical student telehealth service for ambulatory patients with COVID-19

      Zhang, Annie; GoodSmith, Matthew; Server, Steven; Uddin, Sophia; McNulty, Moira; Sherer, Renslow; Lio, Jonathan (Elsevier, 2022-03-01)
      During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when health systems were overwhelmed with surging hospitalizations and a novel virus, many ambulatory patients diagnosed with COVID-19 lacked guidance and support as they convalesced at home. This case report offers insight into the implementation of a telehealth service utilizing third- and fourth-year medical students to provide follow-up to ambulatory patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The service was evaluated using medical student surveys and retrospective chart review to assess the clinical and social needs of patients during the spring of 2020. Students assessed symptoms for 416 patients with COVID-19 from April 8 to May 20 and provided clinical information and resources. Eighteen percent of these patients sought higher levels of medical care, in part from student referrals. Three key implementation lessons from this experience that may be relevant for others include: 1) Vulnerable patient populations face unique stressors exacerbated by the pandemic and may benefit from intensive follow-up after COVID-19 diagnosis to address both medical and social needs; 2) Medical students can play value-added roles in providing patient education to prevent the spread of COVID-19, assisting patients with escalating care or resource connection, and providing emotional support to those who have lost loved ones; 3) Continuous re-assessment of the intervention was important to address evolving patient needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Future work should focus on identifying high-risk patient populations and tailoring follow-up interventions to meet the unique needs of these patient populations.