Development of a Telemedicine Screening Program During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Eileen J. Kim, Inna Kaminecki, Emily A. Gaid, Michael Lopez, Megha Kalia, Jesse Zheng, Alexander Oliver, Hongyan Xu, Thomas J. Kim, Desiree Seeyave, Phillip L Coule, Matt Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Telemedicine use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic due to concerns for patient and provider safety. Given the lack of testing resources initially and the large geographical range served by Augusta University (AU), a telemedicine platform with up-to-date screening guidelines was implemented for COVID-19 testing in March 2020. Our objective was to understand the level of adherence to telemedicine screening guidelines for COVID-19. Methods: The study population included health care providers and population who participated in an encounter in the AU Health Express Care virtual care program from March 22 to May 21, 2020. All encounters were intended to be for COVID-19 screening, free, and available 24 h per day, 7 days per week. Screening guidelines were developed by AU based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Results: Among 17,801 total encounters, 13,600 were included in the final analysis. Overall adherence to screening guidelines was 71% in the adult population and 57% in the pediatric population. When providers did not follow guidelines, 72% determined that the patient should have a positive screen. Guidelines themselves determined that only 52% of encounters should have a positive screen. Providers' specialty significantly correlated with guideline adherence (p = 0.002). Departments with the highest adherence were psychiatry, neurology, and ophthalmology. No significant correlation was found between guideline adherence and provider degree/position. Conclusions: This study provides proof of concept of a free telehealth screening platform during an ongoing pandemic. Our screening experience was effective and different specialties participated. Our patient population lived in lower than average income zip codes, suggesting that our free telemedicine screening program successfully reached populations with higher financial barriers to health care. Early training and a posteriori knowledge of telemedicine was likely key to screening guideline adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1205
Number of pages7
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • guidelines
  • screening
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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