CEO Marc Harrison, MD, shared seven things Intermountain has learned about providing digital services during the pandemic in an article published in the Harvard Business Review. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of technology in our healthcare system’s capacity to care for people has been essential,” he wrote.

Dr. Harrison said providing care virtually has helped prevent COVID-19 infections, preserved needed PPE supplies, and freed up hospital beds and staff. Plus, patients love it—it’s less expensive, and the outcomes are excellent.

“The average cost of a virtual encounter at Intermountain is $367 less than the cost of a visit to an urgent care clinic, physician’s office, or emergency department,” he wrote. “Our internal study of 150 patients in one rural Utah town showed each patient saved an average of $2,000 in driving expenses and lost wages over a year’s time because he or she was able to receive telehealth care close to home.”

Physicians are also seeing the benefits of virtual care. Dr. Harrison wrote, “One of our surgeons talked about doing his post-op follow-ups virtually, and he said the care is better because he can see patients where they live. If there’s a concern about a patient’s diet, he can say: ‘Can you show me what’s in your cupboards and your fridge?’”