When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the health care system was faced with a dual challenge. There was a sharp increase in urgent and critical care needs for those who got the virus. And at the same time, health care providers needed to meet the ongoing needs of other patients while minimizing the risk of spreading the virus.
Recognizing this challenge, the federal government took steps to make telehealth services easier to both provide and receive. This was a multi-agency effort that included regulatory changes to billing criteria as well as easing the restrictions on the types of platforms that providers and patients could use to communicate with each other.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was charged with creating a new website that would pull the latest federal information about telehealth into one central information hub. And given the urgency of the public health crisis, HRSA and other federal stakeholders wanted the new website launched as soon as possible.
Our partner Skylight was hired to develop the new site. They brought Bloom in to identify the information needed, develop the information architecture, and write the content — all of which we did in under 3 weeks.
The team conducted formative research with health care providers and patients to learn what they already knew about telehealth, what their primary questions were, and any concerns they had about increasing telehealth services. Some of the providers we spoke with were already set up to provide telehealth, primarily because they were associated with a large practice or hospital system. Others were trying to launch telehealth as an interim option due to COVID-19.
For patients, we focused on:
- Explaining what telehealth is, the various ways of receiving it (by phone and secure messaging as well as by video), and the importance of considering telehealth during the pandemic
- Providing how-to information like setting up for a successful video visit
- Different ways to access telehealth, like through an insurance provider or health center
For providers, we needed to cover a wider range of content, including:
- How to get set up to provide telehealth
- Changes to billing and reimbursement requirements for services during COVID-19
- Legal considerations, like protecting patient information and protecting themselves from liability and malpractice
- How to introduce patients to telehealth services
Our team was on a tight timetable, and we successfully launched the website just 3 weeks after we were brought on board. HRSA continues to add to the site, which has successfully become a hub for federal telehealth information.