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TeleHealth: Benefitting providers and patients

Maj. Shannon Roman, 15th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic flight commander, and Staff Sgt. Taylor Angel-Black, 15th MDG mental health technician, demonstrate how the new virtual receptionist and scribe system called TeleHealth, works during an in-person session at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2021. The 15th MDG worked with InstantTeams to create this time-saving program to lighten the administrative workload of mental health workers and increase their patient pool. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

Maj. Shannon Roman, 15th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic flight commander, and Staff Sgt. Taylor Angel-Black, 15th MDG mental health technician, demonstrate how the new virtual receptionist and scribe system called TeleHealth, works during an in-person session at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2021. The 15th MDG worked with InstantTeams to create this time-saving program to lighten the administrative workload of mental health workers and increase their patient pool. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

The No. 1 priority of the 15th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic is taking care of patients, and with a new virtual program, the clinic can expand its reach.

Providers spend an average of one hour on medical documentation and administrative requirements for every hour actually spent with a patient.

“Our burnout does not come from patient care itself,” said Maj. Shannon Roman, 15th MDG Mental Health Clinic flight commander. “Patient care is actually the most fulfilling part and the afterward of administrative tasks is where the burnout happens.”

Leadership took notice of this problem and looked to MEDWERX, the 15th MDG’s innovation team, to find a solution.

“We looked at what was being done in the civilian sector with time-saving methods, and found that having a virtual scribe was working,” said Capt. Durnay Stacy, 15th MDG MEDWERX chief executive officer. “We were able to acquire innovation funds and were connected with InstantTeams to work on a solution.”

The solution to the Mental Health Clinic’s problem came in the form of Telehealth.

A virtual receptionist schedules sessions and a virtual scribe sits in on each session, with consent from the patient, to transcribe the session for the provider. This allows providers to fully focus on the patient.

“The beauty is that the patient and the provider don't even think about the scribe being there taking notes,” said Bobby Mack, Instant Teams TeleHealth lead. “Using technology and people, we can give doctors back the time they need to then refocus on patients and allow them to treat more people.”

Effectiveness is tracked using provider surveys and the submission times of session notes.

Currently, providers receive 65% of their time back that is normally spent on administrative tasks.

“What if we can prevent just one suicide?” said Stacy. “What if that goes even further, what if our mental health teams can go and do more outreach? That would make it worth it.”