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Tufts Medicine Announces Virtual-First Approach To Improve Access to Care

February 20, 2024

AI technology will help guide patients to care in the right place at the right time.

Tufts Medicine announced a new Virtual-First initiative, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), that will enhance patient experiences and improve access to affordable, quality health care. 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. "We are excited to offer these benefits to our patients, bringing together technology, care models and payment mechanisms to better meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve."

The Virtual-First program leverages various forms of AI to augment and amplify Tufts Medicine clinicians' knowledge, skills and compassion. The new offering results from Tufts Medicine's digital transformation, led by Shafiq Rab, MD, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer for Tufts Medicine.

"Virtual-First can help eliminate disparities in health care 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 health care 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, MD, Chief Medical Officer 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. We are excited that this new initiative will help us take a big step forward in achieving that goal."


About Tufts Medicine 
Tufts Medicine brings together the best of academic and community medicine to deliver exceptional, connected and accessible care. Comprised of Tufts Medical Center, the principal teaching hospital of Tufts University and the Tufts University School of Medicine, Lowell General Hospital, MelroseWakefield Hospital, Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, Care at Home and an integrated network of 2,300 physicians, we treat the most complex conditions, keep our communities healthy and bring research breakthroughs to life.

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