Infographics are always nice
The volume of Covid-19 testing in the US will incur a load on our medical processing capabilities. Increasingly this will necessitate a system that can adapt to volatility. Over the past 20 years, TeleHealth has established itself with capabilities and tools that have the potential to meet the special demands and circumstances presented by this unprecedented medical need.
The stages of a Covid-19 Test: The Covid-19 testing will comprise of multiple stages performed in different locations and possibly even different parts of the country. Each of these stages will require coordination and queuing of tasks to successfully complete a test from start to finish. At a high-level these stages are:
Initial Consultation / Specimen collection. This stage will require patients to supply basic information about themselves, their medical history and other relevant information. This stage will also require a trustworthy specimen to be obtained. As of this writing the specimen collection stage must be performed by a qualified medical provider but there are murmurings on the internet that a home-kit may be available soon which will further simplify this stage.
Delivery to a Lab. A Laboratory with adequate capabilities is designated and the patient's information along with the specimen is delivered using a courier service.
Specimen Analysis. This is the act by the Laboratory of actually performing the process that yields results.
Results delivery to originating clinic. This is done electronically but will also include a variety of information suited for a medical provider to review with a patient.
Results Consultation. This consultation between a medical provider and patient involve not only reviewing the results from the specimen analysis performed by the Lab but also reviewing the results within the context of a patient's medical history and symptoms. This consultation will also involve follow-up activities by the patient as advised by the medical provider.
Why a 'closed system' will not work. The stages outlined here are a 'closed system' for small to mid-size and even larger care facilities across the country. This closed system is highly vulnerable to the resulting pressure that will come from the volume of Covid-19 testing. These care facilities will lack the resources to adapt to volatility in availability by processing Labs and will also lack the resources to properly perform both intake and results consultations once their own human resources are impacted.
TeleHealth tools and capabilities: Most TeleHealth companies consist of a nation-wide medical provider network that performs daily consultations with patients with the help of a dedicated call center and cloud-based EMR.
The case for a pressure 'release valve' by TeleHealth. Example scenarios where TeleHealth could immediately provide relief to Covid-19 testing:
A simple example would be to allow Labs to route N number of patients' results to a TeleHealth EMR for results consultations. This would prevent a scenario where the originating clinic is unable to efficiently serve the needs of tested patients. This could also occur based on a feedback-loop, i.e. route patient results to TeleHealth provider network only when results are not presented to patient after a determined number of days.
A more elaborate example of how TeleHealth could prevent the Covid-19 testing efforts from becoming over-pressurized is to implement a clearinghouse where each stage of the testing process for a patient undergoes an evaluation. This evaluation would result in specimens and information being routed appropriately based on availability and resources. Furthermore, provider networks can be used to easily off-load the initial consultation and/or results consultation stages.
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