History and Current Response
Crisis and Telehealth are two peas in a pod. It was natural calamities like hurricane Katrina which revealed just how important telehealth was in fighting back in times of crisis. The need back then was of course more due to the lack of access because of geographic restriction. People’s access to care was severed due to a geographical barrier, which telehealth helped overcome. In pandemics like the COVID-19, the need is more due to an infectious restriction, where the barrier is not imposed by lack of access but because of their chances of transmitting the virus to the rest of the population.
A lot of companies, including providers, payors and vendors are stepping up at this time to combat the further proliferation of this contagion. Governments of both USA and Canada have allocated funds to deal with this public health crisis, but the responsibility of planning and executing programs still lies with the organizations who will be fighting COVID-19 on the ground. It’s one thing to authorize funds, it’s another to use them efficiently. Players in the healthcare industry in North America have done a variety of things thus far to combat this outbreak. Such acts are also being implemented by other organizations, who have joined in the movement.
Who is Doing What?
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Association will increase access to prescription drugs, waive prior authorizations and increase coverage for COVID-19.
- AmeriHealth New Jersey, Anthem, CVS Health’s Aetna, Optima Health and Humana will waive some form of out of pocket costs/co-pay/deductibles for COVID-19 testing.
- Kaiser Permanente will contribute $1 million to leading public health organizations and collaborate with CDC foundation to strengthen the USA’s public health infrastructure and response systems.
- Spectrum Health has announced free virtual screenings for all Michigan residents who are symptomatic of COVID-19. People are to call a hotline number, after which they will be instructed to download Spectrum Health’s telemedicine app and scheduled a video visit.
- Boston Children’s Hospital has come up with a model for the COVID-19 using AI. The want to project how the virus will spread in real time, and keep track of case fatalities. Doing so will enable all to be better prepared from here on. This is very helpful for planning supply chains.
- Greenwich hospital is limiting visitor access to its main campus and outpatient facilities. Only one visitor per patient is allowed, and symptomatic visitors are barred apart from certain restrictions. Additionally, all visitors are to be screened before entering. Hospitals across USA and Canada have adopted very similar measures. one such example is Wichita Wesley hospital in Kansas, that is screening all entrants at the gates. 52 out of their 57 entrances are shut down. They have cancelled any large-group employee meetings indefinitely and enacted a 30-day ban on travel for employees.
- Yale New Haven Health is offering a call center for patients who have questions about COVID-19. Again, hospitals across the land have introduced such lines to maintain a proper channel of communication dedicated to COVID-19. It has become a very popular response, where people are in need of information as much as they are in need of care.
- Bright.md has announced a free COVID-19 evaluation and screening tool for all hospitals in USA for their patients. The tool reviews the patient’s symptoms, health history and travel history for a diagnosis.
- Bioufourmis’s clincal grade wearables and AI powered remote care analytics platform is being used in Hong Kong to track the condition of COVID-19 patients. While the scope of care is outside of North America in this case, Biofourmis is based out of Boston.
- Vivify Health has developed a Coronavirus Pathway which allows the self-screening of patients. Such a pathway can start by patients using their own device or using a delivered kit, which is the case of Current Health.They are offering remote triaging by drop shipping a kit to the patient’s front door, so they can be self-isolated but also be continuously monitored for condition.
- Based out of California, VivaLnks’s continuous temperature sensor is being used in China to monitor potential and affected patients. Shanghai Public health Center is the designated site to treat quarantined patients, and remotely monitoring patients ensures that the healthcare professionals are safe from the virus.
- Aetonix, based out of Canada, is offering free remote screening for potential patients to all healthcare organizations, both in Canada and USA. Using a virtual care call, healthcare professionals are able to safely triage patients who have been pre-screened for the Corona virus on the aTouchAway App.
In the Coming Days
Whether it be insurance companies, healthcare organizations, or remote patient monitoring/tele health solutions, everyone is pitching in to slow down the spread of COVID-19. North American companies especially, are making a worldwide impact to stifle this pandemic. Expect this list to burgeon in the coming days, as more firms throw their hats into the mix, if they haven’t already.