MARK HAGGERTY, DO, MS
Sentara Little Neck Family Practice, Virginia Beach;
Sentara Telehealth Services
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mark Haggerty understood the tremendous potential of telemedicine.
Since 2018, Dr. Haggerty has led the development of a rapidly expanding telehealth division at Sentara Medical Group (SMG). SMG has scheduled nearly a million video visits to date, placing it at the leading edge of a modality projected to be ever more important in healthcare.
“Telehealth gives us the ability to reach patients where they are, whether they need primary or specialty care,” Dr. Haggerty says. “It’s a key tool for improving access, providing care for acute and chronic conditions and thereby potentially improving outcomes.”
At just 38, Dr. Haggerty has earned respect as both a hard-working practitioner and an innovative administrator. The Director of Medical Operations of Telehealth Services and Digital Solutions for SMG, he has helped build a virtual program from the ground up, although he stresses that numerous colleagues have played significant roles.
SMG currently conducts about 15,000 telehealth visits a month. Its dedicated Telehealth Team, once a part-time staff that saw a few patients daily, now has 13 providers and has completed more than 30,000 visits since inception.
About 10 percent of primary care visits are done virtually, such as patients needing prescription refills or transitioning home from a hospital. Some don’t have a PCP, whether due to physician retirement or a move, or can’t schedule an in-person appointment for six or more months.
“Telehealth can offer a crucial bridge to care in such cases,” Dr. Haggerty notes.
For increasingly busy and short-staffed medical practices, virtual care streamlines schedules and allows providers to fit in more appointments. It also can solve significant access barriers for patients, such as mobility problems or the lack of a vehicle, childcare or time off work.
Dr. Haggerty was particularly inspired by one of his own patients, a paraplegic who had to hire medical transport to reach his office. “It cost him $500 to get here,” he notes. “His gratitude when we started using video visits had a significant impact on me.”
As part of his administrative role, Dr. Haggerty works with other providers and Sentara leaders to develop new virtually-enabled services with specialties such as pulmonology, physical therapy and post-hospital services.
Pulmonology, for example, now operates a telemedicine service and completes sleep medicine intakes virtually.
Dr. Haggerty also advises on digital platforms such as Sentara.com and the Sentara App, where patients can engage with their care and even self-schedule virtual visits.
A Newport News native, Dr. Haggerty entered medicine partly out of admiration for his father, an infectious disease specialist. After graduating from James Madison University, he earned a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences from Barry University in Florida and a medical degree from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg.
Dr. Haggerty completed his Family Medicine residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School, drawn to the specialty’s variety and the chance to form long-term relationships with his patients. He joined Sentara Little Neck Family Practice in 2017.
By early 2018, SMG had appointed Dr. Haggerty as the Medical Director of Telehealth Services. He served in that position for a year before becoming Associate Medical Director for Sentara Virtual Care Services; he assumed his current role in November 2021.
A married father of two boys, Dr. Haggerty enjoys golf, traveling and coaching youth basketball. That work-life balance – central to all physicians’ well-being – is another area where he hopes telemedicine can play a role.
“As looming provider shortages will strain timely access to care for our patients, we need to be very forward-thinking with digital solutions,” he says. “I’m excited to help Sentara advance our capabilities into the future.”
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