The Role of Virtual Health During COVID-19
Updated February 8, 2021
Amid a global health crisis like COVID-19, the healthcare conversation focuses on the number of individuals impacted by the disease for good reason. While the severity of a public health crisis should not be downplayed, individuals continue to need care for a variety of other reasons, such as chronic conditions, acute illnesses, and treatment for behavioral health needs like anxiety. Getting care when it’s needed for these conditions can prove challenging during a pandemic because limiting non-essential visits is safer for all parties involved. When this happens, the convenience of seeing a provider diminishes and care needs may not be met.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring access to primary care in the face of a public health crisis, organizations are turning to virtual health, which allows you to connect with a provider via telephone or video call from the comfort of your home.
What Conditions Can Be Treated via Virtual Health?
Virtual health, often used interchangeably with telemedicine and telehealth, can be used to treat a variety of conditions. During a pandemic, where community systems and hospitals face resource constraints and the burdens of an influx of severe cases, virtual care can mitigate the strain by treating non-emergent illnesses or injuries, keeping those individuals out of primary care offices, emergency rooms and hospitals. This helps lighten the load on community resources already strained, while reducing the spread of the virus.
When face-to-face visits are limited or unavailable, virtual health ensures members continue to receive coordinated care. There are several primary care conditions that can be treated virtually, including:
- Back pain
- Follow-up appointments
- Medication refills
- Rashes and bites
- Sinus infection
- Sore throat
Other services offered may include:
- Behavioral health
- Clinical pharmacy
- Condition management
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Wellness coaching
The Benefits of Virtual Care
The benefit of virtual health is that it provides access to care when and where it’s needed. There’s no need to schedule an appointment weeks’ in advance or make a trip to the doctor’s office. It offers an additional access point, which proves to be vital when an onsite or nearsite health center may have restricted access or has closed during a pandemic.
For Premise, virtual health takes shape in two forms that are complementary and can work together interchangeably:
- National virtual health enables members to seek care where they are, when they need it, 24/7. Providers are licensed in all 50 states (and D.C.), which gives members access to on-demand care – no business hour or geographic restrictions.
- Local virtual health extends the reach of an onsite or nearsite health center provider team. Members can see local providers, those that staff the health center, during normal business hours. At Premise, both video and telephonic visits are available.
A Coordinated Approach
Virtual health serves as an extension of your onsite or nearsite health centers. This means care is tightly coordinated among providers delivering care onsite or through virtual means. Providers conducting a virtual visit can see the member’s full medical record to ensure they have a holistic view of their health. The virtual visit is documented in the medical record, so if the member needs to be referred back to the onsite provider, there are no gaps in the medical history.
A Seamless Experience
The overall member experience is a critical metric for healthcare providers – delivering care virtually is no exception. One of the most significant benefits of virtual health is the convenience factor – getting care from the comfort of your home or on the go. Members can request a virtual visit directly through a mobile application or the web on the member portal. Depending on member preference, one can choose to conduct a visit telephonically or via video, allowing for quick, convenient care for non-emergent conditions. Using the portal to book or request virtual health visits drives engagement and gives members another option to see their provider.
Why Does Virtual Health Matter During a Public Health Crisis?
Bottom line, a global health crisis can make getting care when it’s needed difficult. But healthcare needs don’t stop during a pandemic. Virtual health ensures people can access care the moment it’s needed and address issues before they escalate into more severe problems. When health systems face significant constraints, virtual health helps alleviate the burden by enabling providers to continue treating non-emergent cases outside traditional brick and mortar settings.
How is Premise Health Leveraging Virtual Health During COVID-19?
As our clients and members look for guidance during this unprecedented time, there are several ways we are leveraging virtual health at our sites across the country:
- Virtual screenings can serve as the first line of defense to determine if a member is experiencing traditional cold and flu symptoms, or if they could potentially have COVID-19. Virtual screenings also keep potentially infected member out of community health centers while guiding them to appropriate care for COVID-19 testing as needed.
- Virtual care can be delivered to populations working from home with acute, episodic and primary care needs.
- Virtual return to work screenings can be conducted for remote workers returning to the office or campus, as well as members who have been quarantined before returning to the workplace.
Premise Health is committed to protecting and promoting the health and safety of team members, members, and their families. As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, our teams can play a critical role in providing continued access to high-quality healthcare. By providing care virtually, and in-person when needed, direct primary care reduces the burden on the healthcare system and helps individuals stay out of emergency rooms and hospitals where they risk COVID-19 exposure. This allows people to stay home and stay safe even when care is still needed.
From pandemic preparation and screening to response and return to work, we can help your organization strategically navigate this unprecedented and challenging time.
- If you are a Premise Health member with questions, call your health center.
- If you are a Premise Health client with questions, please contact your director of client operations.
- For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].
Premise Health is the leading direct healthcare provider offering onsite wellness centers, as well as nearsite and virtual access points. For the latest COVID-19 information from Premise Health, click here.