By Olivia R. Weidner, DHIT Global Intern | April 21, 2020

On Friday April 17th, the Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) hosted the second installment of its digital web series. The DHIT Frequency Webinar Series, which will take place biweekly, is a way to keep our community connected while many work from home. Each segment will be hosted by DHIT’s President, Michael Levy, and will spotlight distinguished guests from across the ecosystem to discuss the state of digital health in the time of COVID-19.

Amidst widespread fear and uncertainty, DHIT explored the role of digital health in the global response to COVID-19, gaining insight into the ways this crisis has catalyzed the usage and acceptance of telehealth and other digital health technologies. Panelists included:

  • David Morris, CEO, MindCare
  • Danielle Barrera, COO, FastMed Urgent Care
  • Steven Pacicco, President and CEO, MatrixCare

The theme of Friday’s webinar was the changing role of telemedicine amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our panelists shared their experiences across different domains of healthcare delivery. David Morris discussed telemedicine in the sphere of behavioral health, while Danielle Barrera talked about the retail healthcare space of FastMed Urgent Care. Finally, Steven Pacicco communicated the changes he’s seen as CEO of MatrixCare, a leading EHR platform for long-term care. Although they each interact with telemedicine and digital health technologies in different ways, all have been impacted by the current crisis.

Host and moderator Michael Levy began the webinar by asking each of our guests what has been the most surprising aspect of their experience with COVID-19. Barrera shared her experience at FastMed: “What’s really surprised me is the rate at which consumer behavior has changed over the last six weeks. We’ve talked about digital healthcare for decades…I think this pandemic has really accelerated consumer interest in accessing healthcare providers in a new way.”

At MindCare, a leading telepsychiatry provider to hospitals and health systems, Morris saw a similar shift toward remote healthcare delivery, but noted a certain degree of disruption in the status quo as well. Discussing the intake of psychiatric patients, he tells viewers:

“The largest change we saw was that the access point, which is typically the ER, was no longer being utilized. The ER became focused on one condition, one virus. No one else wanted to be in the ER, including psychiatric patients. However, without access to inpatient or outpatient care, where do these patients go?”

“It’s hard to articulate how brave and courageous the people who work [in the long-term care facilities] are. A high majority of nursing homes in the country have COVID-19 positive patients, and some are overrun with it. People are going into these units every day and caring for the residents.”

Despite this “domino effect” of disruption, Morris goes on to share the successes of utilizing telebehavioral health for mental health care. In recent years, the US has experienced a shortage of behavioral health providers, especially psychiatrists. More lenient regulatory standards for digital service delivery means that there has been an increase in flexibility and access in recent weeks. For example, psychiatrists can now conduct virtual visits across state lines. Going forward, this change could help bridge the access gap and improve the quality of care delivered.

For Steve Pacicco, there were two things that stood out: the courage of the caregivers, and the passion of the MatrixCare team. Pacicco tells viewers:

“It’s hard to articulate how brave and courageous the people who work [in the long-term care facilities] are. A high majority of nursing homes in the country have COVID-19 positive patients, and some are overrun with it. People are going into these units every day and caring for the residents.”

Meanwhile, the MatrixCare team has been working overtime to accommodate patients and serve local communities. Across the board, people have been coming together to make it happen. Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, there was a low level of telehealth usage in long-term care settings, but this is changing at “lightning speed” amid the circumstances.

Moving forward, each of our guests faces a degree of uncertainty regarding the evolution of healthcare practices. In the current climate, regulations and restrictions on telemedicine have been relaxed somewhat, but it’s hard to tell how this might change on the other side of the pandemic. Nonetheless, Morris, Barrera, and Pacicco are committed to finding ways to deliver the highest quality of care possible in each of their respective domains. For Barrera, this means pursuing partnerships with other healthcare systems. Morris sees potential for expansion in access to care through telehealth as consumer acceptance increases. Finally, Pacicco points to the possibility of delivering more affordable, efficient care for the aging population of the US.

In summary, the medical sphere is evolving rapidly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. Although we cannot know what the future holds, caring for patients remains the primary goal. As acceptance and familiarity with telemedicine grows, technology holds promise for increasing access to and quality of care for all.

DHIT thanks its guests for serving on the panel, and everyone who tuned in! If you were not able to catch last week’s webinar, check out DHIT’s YouTube channel to see what you missed. DHIT would also like to give a special shout out to our sponsors: Bluedoor Group, Tanjo, and Smashing Boxes, for making this webinar possible.

Mark your calendar for Friday, May 1st for the third installment of the DHIT Frequency Webinar Series. Until then, stay safe, everyone!


The Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit education and research institute supporting communities through the process of digital health transformation. We collaborate with leading academic institutions, associations, and industry to cultivate talent and ecosystems with our immersive learning platform, harnessing real-world experiences that drive the adoption of next generation skills, emerging technologies, and mindsets needed to foster the digital health leaders and innovators of the future, today. For more information, visit

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