The Massachusetts General Hospital Virtual Visits Team was honored with the 2020 Nathaniel Bowditch Prize for its quick and innovative work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bowditch Prize is awarded each year by the Mass General Board of Trustees to recognize the efforts of a team or individual who has improved the quality of care, while reducing the cost of that care.

“This is a wonderful recognition of our teams’ terrific and collaborative work, and a testimony to the program’s impact on patients and our hospital,” says Lee Schwamm, MD, director of Mass General's Center for TeleHealth and vice president of Virtual Care for Mass General Brigham. “Many of you share in contributing to this accomplishment—it truly takes a village.”

Before March 2020, almost all Mass General ambulatory care was delivered in person. When the pandemic struck, in-person visits were diminished, and the hospital had to instantly increase the number of providers and patients who could engage in a new method of care delivery: virtual visits. A collaboration between the Mass General Center for Telehealth, Ambulatory Management, Clinical Informatics, the Business Transformation Training team and eCare, along with Mass General Brigham Virtual Care, led to a successful deployment—and continued growth—of virtual patient care. This allowed Mass General to continue providing care for patients while keeping them off campus and reducing potential COVID exposures.

In just six weeks the teams went from 0.5% of all ambulatory visits being virtual to more than 60%. This meant Mass General could continue to deliver routine, acute and chronic care to its patients at a time when there were essentially no other options, as well as provide critical revenue when it was most needed.

“My deepest thanks to our hospital leaders for their generous support of this work over the years,” says Schwamm. “Without their foresight and vision, we would never have been prepared or capable of the extraordinary rapid deployment we achieved.”