Acad Med. 2021 Jun 15. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004208. Online ahead of print.
PROBLEM: The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic presented numerous challenges to inpatient care, including overtaxed inpatient medicine services, surges in patient censuses, disrupted patient care and educational activities for trainees, underused providers in certain specialties, and personal protective equipment shortages and new requirements for physical distancing. In March 2020, as the COVID-19 surge began, an interdisciplinary group of administrators, providers, and trainees at Brigham and Women's Hospital created an inpatient virtual staffing model called the Virtual Team Rounding Program (VTRP).
APPROACH: The conceptual framework guiding VTRP development was rapid-cycle innovation. The VTRP was designed iteratively using feedback from residents, physician assistants, attendings, and administrators from March to June 2020. The VTRP trained and deployed a diverse set of providers across specialties as "virtual rounders" to support inpatient teams by joining and participating in rounds via videoconference and completing documentation tasks during and after rounds. The program was rapidly scaled up from March to June 2020.
OUTCOMES: In a survey of inpatient providers at the end of the pilot phase, 10/10 (100%) respondents reported they were getting either "a lot" or "a little" benefit from the VTRP and did not find the addition of the virtual rounder burdensome. During the scaling phase, the program grew to support 24 teams. In a survey at the end of the contraction phase, 117/187 (62.6%) inpatient providers who worked with a virtual rounder felt the rounder saved them time. VTRP leadership collaboratively and iteratively developed best practices for challenges encountered during implementation.
NEXT STEPS: Virtual rounding provides a valuable extension of inpatient teams to manage COVID-19 surges. Future work will quantitatively and qualitatively assess the impact of the VTRP on inpatient provider satisfaction and well-being, virtual rounders' experiences, and patient care outcomes.