Essentia has received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Trailblazer Award for its nation-leading efforts to improve access to virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis encouraged Essentia Health teams to provide an opportunity for patients to receive care from their health care provider virtually using a phone, tablet, laptop, or PC from the comfort of their home a full month ahead of a planned launch. Virtual visits launched March 18, prompted by a need to keep patients and staff safe from the virus.

“We literally went from zero to about 3,000 virtual visits per day in less than three weeks and we ramped up more quickly and have done more volume than just about anyone in the country,” says Essentia CEO David Herman, MD.

The new approach to care was welcomed among more than 1,200 primary care providers, as well as physicians and advanced care providers within as many as 60 specialties. Patients also responded positively. Analytics indicate as many as 69% of total Essentia Health visits were conducted using virtual visits, E-Visits, and video visits between facilities. An early May survey of 1,500 patients found more than 90 percent said they received the care they needed and would consider virtual visits in the future. Nearly 100 percent of patients said they had a great experience seeing their provider virtually.