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This article is the author's final published version in JACEP Open, Volume 5, Issue 2, 2024, Article number e13128.

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Copyright © 2024 The Authors


OBJECTIVES: The relationship between COVID-19-related telehealth calls could be used to predict emergency department visits and hospital surges 3 days later potentially facilitating staffing adjustments in advance of patient arrivals. The purpose of this research was to study the temporal association between frequencies of on demand telehealth calls and emergency department surges during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

METHODS: This cohort study examined patients who self-initiated synchronous audio-video on-demand telehealth calls between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022, and compared these to emergency department arrivals. The exposure in question was a synchronous audio-video on-demand telehealth visit. Our main outcome measured was frequency of emergency department visits. After autocorrelation, a multivariate linear regression model was utilized to determine temporal relationships between the two variables.

RESULTS: This cohort study examined 42,429 synchronous audio-video on-demand telehealth calls, of which 43.6% were COVID-19 related, and 540,686 emergency department visits, of which 3.9% were diagnosed with COVID-19. COVID-19-related telehealth calls 3 days prior were predictive of emergency department encounters (

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that telehealth calls related to COVID-19 were an accurate predictor of emergency department encounters 3 days later, and emergency department encounters are highly correlated with hospital admissions. Limitations include that we only assessed a single health system in the region covered by the telemedicine healthcare professionals. We did not examine direct links between these two encounter types nor severity of illness at the patient level. Understanding that telehealth calls related to COVID-19 are highly predictive of emergency department encounters within 3 days may provide a brief but important window to upstaff hospitals at the beginning of future COVID-19 surges.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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