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Bridging patient perspectives and practical operations to support post-pandemic policy.

CLIENT: Minnesota Department of Health

Key Points

Telehealth is care delivered using interactive audio and visual communications such as video or telephone calls. Telehealth policy changed at the onset of the pandemic to allow for expanded access, including reimbursement for audio-only telehealth. In 2021, the Legislature tasked the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Health Economics Program with studying the impacts of telehealth post-pandemic to inform decisions about the future of telehealth policy and payment. SDK was engaged by MDH as a key partner to the study. Our contributions included: facilitating and helping recruit and structure a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to help shape the study approach; qualitative research including interviews with healthcare operations leaders and community engagement to understand when and how healthcare providers choose to offer telehealth, patient experience and telehealth’s impacts on equitable health care; and collaborating with MDH on their interim and final reports to the legislature.  

Client Need

Telehealth usage spiked at the onset of the pandemic, due in part to policy changes that allowed for greater telehealth payment parity, expanded access and increased demand for remote services during the pandemic. Telehealth use has remained higher than in 2019 even as the pandemic has subsided. The Minnesota Legislature tasked MDH with studying the impacts of telehealth on healthcare access, cost, quality, patient satisfaction and impacts on health care equity, and making recommendations to the legislature for post-pandemic telehealth payment and policy.

SDK Contributions

SDK was engaged as a key partner to MDH’s study, charged with three inter-related roles: Technical Advisory Group design and facilitation, stakeholder and community engagement, and the reports to the legislature.  


Specifically, SDK helped convene and facilitated a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of healthcare payers, providers, and telehealth stakeholders who provided input on study design and analysis throughout the extended effort.  


Additionally, SDK led stakeholder and community engagement for key interests in the study. Focus groups, interviews and listening sessions captured input from healthcare operations leaders, niche healthcare providers such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and community-based mental health providers, patients, community-based service providers (e.g. home and community-based care) and public health leaders. In total, SDK captured and analyzed perspectives from more than 90 people. Our work provided the equity analysis for the study.  

Finally, Stephanie Devitt provided digital equity content expertise to the report. SDK also provided team members who drafted the interim report to the legislature and contributed to the final report.    

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