Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

MEMBER MOMENTS: Tufts Medicine Announces Virtual-First Approach to Improve Access

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Tufts Medicine patients will soon have access to a digital personal assistant through the MyTuftsMed mobile app that will help them decide when and where to seek care. Later this year, patients will be able to chat on-demand with a clinician about their symptoms and seamlessly connect to in-person care, if needed.

“We want to provide our current and future patients with the option of beginning their care journeys virtually and seamlessly, moving to coordinated in-person care when necessary,” said Emily Young, president of the Tufts Medicine Integrated Network.

The Virtual-First program leverages various forms of artificial intelligence to augment and amplify Tufts Medicine clinicians’ knowledge and skills. The new offering results from Tufts Medicine’s digital transformation, led by Shafiq Rab, M.D., chief information officer and chief digital officer for Tufts Medicine.

“Virtual-First can help eliminate disparities in healthcare by providing patients with prioritized access to our high-quality care professionals,” said Dr. Rab. “This technology enables Tufts Medicine to innovate responsibly with machine learning, seamlessly expanding access through integration with our electronic health record. Virtual-First is a strategy-enabler and a differentiator, and a potential game-changer for our region.”

This initiative is particularly important at a time when access to healthcare has become more challenging. Many patients struggle to schedule medical appointments when the need arises, which often results in the overuse of emergency departments for care that is more appropriate in another healthcare setting, such as a primary care office or urgent care center.

“This program will help ensure that our patients receive the immediate attention they need and deserve,” said Frank Osborn, M.D., CMO for the Tufts Medicine Integrated Network. “It has always been our goal to ensure that every one of our patients receives the right care in the right place at the right time.”