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Nation's 1st telehealth chair on changing culture

Georgina Gonzalez

February 17, 2022

Sarah Rush, MD, serves as the chief medical information officer of Akron (Ohio) Children's Hospital, and in May 2020, she became what is believed to be the first endowed chair of telehealth in the nation. She spoke to Becker's about the creation of the role and what it has meant for the hospital.

The chair position, made possible by a $1 million donation from philanthropist Marci Matthews, was spurred by the telehealth boom brought on by the pandemic. In 2019, Akron Children's had just 275 telehealth appointments, but in 2020 had completed over 55,000 virtual visits. Also, in spite of the general national decline in telehealth usage, Akron completed around 45,000 telehealth visits in 2021.

Despite the hospital's previous efforts to integrate telehealth into behavioral and emergency department care, Dr. Rush said it was the pandemic that caused the change.

"I think, conceptually, people had not been able to really wrap their brains around what telehealth could do," she said. "I think organically through the process of doing and seeing and both sides of it, the providers learning how to do it, the patient learning how to do it, it just sort of naturally happened. Now I think it's become really ingrained in a way that I don't think it would have had we not been put into that situation of having to do it." Read full article here:

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