Cleveland Clinic names physician to lead virtual health


Cleveland Clinic on Thursday announced Dr. Steven Shook, a neurologist, will serve as the health system’s virtual health lead.

Shook will report to Dr. James Merlino, Cleveland Clinic’s chief clinical transformation officer, in the new role, where he will develop and monitor the health system’s virtual health strategy. Shook will also work closely with Josette Beran, Cleveland Clinic’s chief strategy officer, according to the health system.

Merlino appointed Shook to the virtual health role after an internal search.

Shook, who joined Cleveland Clinic as a staff neurologist in 2007, teaches at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and previously served as quality improvement officer and vice chair of operations in the health system’s neurological institute.

Cleveland Clinic joins a growing number of health systems carving out telehealth leadership roles as virtual care has skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth proved a powerful interim avenue for physicians to continue seeing patients even when hospitals closed their doors for non-emergency care. Roughly 93% of respondents to Modern Healthcare’s Power Panel survey of top healthcare CEOs in the spring cited telehealth as a technology with the most potential to support pandemic response.

In the last week of April, nearly 1.7 million beneficiaries received telehealth services, up from roughly 13,000 beneficiaries that received telehealth services per week before the public health emergency, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

While telehealth use has declined since hospitals began reopening, it’s so far plateaued at a notably higher rate than before the pandemic. It’s unclear to what extent the gains in telehealth that hospitals experienced in the spring will be sustained, as providers wait to see which telehealth flexibilities pushed through by the federal government during the pandemic are made permanent.

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