Health System Utilizes Virtual Urgent Care to Lower COVID-19 Exposures
Support the greater community during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Decrease potential exposures for healthcare workers.
Drive improved outcomes by connecting patients with appropriate places of care.
Increase usage of virtual urgent care service line to remotely screen more patients.
Provide continued surveillance of symptoms with remote care.
Coordinate end-step care through stay-in-place care plans, referrals to appropriate testing facilities, and care coordination to necessary follow-on facilities for the worried well.
89% of patients avoided in-person care (ER, urgent care, PCP, other).
Utilization of the service increased by 145% in just 20 days.
93% of patients presenting with serious COVID-19 symptoms were connected with hospital-affiliated testing facilities or local health departments for the coronavirus test.
Over a 20-day period, 1,294 virtual consults completed; of which, 787 patients showed COVID-19 symptoms, and 57 patients were triaged for further testing.
In July 2019, a Raleigh-area health system launched its own virtual urgent care service as a way to reach more patients within their community, selecting RelyMD as their partner. The health system’s telehealth service had been gaining traction and increasing utilization especially as cold & flu season presented itself in the Raleigh, North Carolina region.
Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak as it reached North Carolina, the health system connected with RelyMD to lower the co-pay of their virtual service and quickly began promoting their online healthcare option as a way for the public to avoid potential exposures and to receive care for those who feared an exposure had already occurred.
In addition, the health system was proactively protecting their healthcare workers from unnecessary contact, keeping providers healthy for the predicted increase in hospitalizations.
Within 20 days, the health system had significantly increased the number of consults compared to their previous month. “As soon as the health system lowered their co-pay and promoted the telehealth service, we saw the greater community doing their part in social distancing, especially important within the healthcare field,” said RelyMD Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bobby Park. The service’s utilization rate increased by 145% in less than a month.
Together, RelyMD and the health system developed a comprehensive workflow to connect patients with the appropriate level of care dependent on their symptoms and helped coordinate testing for those patients who met criteria. Through a unique partnership with the health system, RelyMD, and the local public health department, residents were able to be more efficiently screened and triaged for testing. As soon as testing capabilities were in place, 93% of patients with COVID-19 symptoms were assisted in getting diagnosed and triaged through proper channels.
Additionally, RelyMD was called upon by county public health officials to provide remote surveillance for patients who were ordered to recover at-home. For one particular patient, the remote surveillance program was able to identify worsening symptoms and fast-tracked him to the ICU without putting extra risk on unrelated patients and healthcare workers.
Reducing Non-emergent Use of Emergency Dept.
Providing patients with a convenient, cost-effective service to receive care was top of mind even before the COVID-19 pandemic. With known emergency department overuse and limited resources for after-hours care, the health system has put in place the proper infrastructure to be available for patients – anytime, anywhere.
Since launch, the health system has helped 18% of patients avoid an emergency room visit. Since the growth of the coronavirus, 50% of the health system’s virtual urgent care users have been able to remain at home without having to seek care from an urgent care facility, leaving the facility available for patients with a true need for in-person care.
Other benefits from their virtual urgent care service have been:
- Safer environments for healthcare workers across all facility types
- Potential reduction in premature PPE usage on the “worried well” flocking to facilities
- Patient care completion through RelyMD care coordination workflows; patients are truly connected with their next step in care, not left to figure it out for themselves
- More awareness of virtual urgent care even beyond COVID-19
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