Throughout the U.S.’s response to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a demand for healthcare technology that can assist healthcare providers treat patients more effectively while keeping those who have not yet acquired the disease safer. Vivify Health’s Coronavirus pathway, launched in February before the virus had an official name, was at the forefront of this effort.
As the crisis deepens, telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are rapidly gaining recognition as highly valuable solutions for individualized care that keep patients at home while reducing the strain on already over-taxed emergency departments (EDs). Here are some updates on what we are doing to address COVID-19.
COVID-19 Screening, Self-Isolation and Monitoring Pathway
On March 16, Vivify announced the availability of our new COVID-19 Screening, Self-Isolation and Monitoring Pathway for our Vivify +Go mobile solution. The Screening Pathway enables low-risk patients or those with mild symptoms to use their mobile devices to self-screen at home for COVID-19. Users simply answer a series of questions that follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The self-screening helps providers scale their availability by reducing the onslaught of worried patients converging on a facility, enabling physicians to focus their attention on those with the greatest COVID-19 health risks. It also saves patients who may not have the disease now from potential exposure in crowded emergency departments (EDs) or physician offices.
Screening at home is critical to stopping the virulent spread of the virus, because according to a paper published by the Chinese CDC, only 19% of patients who contracted COVID-19 had conditions severe enough to require hospitalization. The effects on the other 81% were mild enough for them to recover safely at home. The availability of Vivify’s COVID-19 Pathways help already-vulnerable patients reduce their risk of exposure and keeps those who have it from passing it on to others.
The COVID-19 Self-Isolation and Monitoring pathways enable all patients, using their mobile devices, to continually upload and update their symptoms to a system monitored remotely by providers, as well as receive up-to-the-minute updates from current CDC guidelines. The constant flow of data also helps virologists understand the lifecycle and effects of the disease so they can better determine the public health threat and actions that should be taken as a result.
We have been distributing the Pathways free to our clients to help them reduce the health risks to all their patients, but especially those whose lives are at greatest risk such as the elderly, those who are immunocompromised, and those with co-morbidities (especially lung issues).
Since these comprehensive, patient-centered solutions can be used on the patient’s phone they do not need to have any additional equipment, enabling faster deployment through a population.
COVID-19 Federal Funding
On March 17, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their physicians without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare—administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country. This includes the home, and any geographic location (rural to urban). Payment would be at the same rates as in-office visits until the crisis has passed. The $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 has set aside $500 million to pay for Medicare telehealth services (voice and video).
An even quicker path to cross state provision of medical care is the full waiver of state-specific licensure requirements. We have already seen this approach by CMS, which, for purposes of Medicare and Medicaid providers, temporarily waives requirements that out-of-state providers be licensed in the state where they are providing services when they are licensed in another state. This applies to Medicare and Medicaid, as set forth in the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Health Care Providers Fact Sheet.
In addition to telehealth services, the Remote Physiologic CPT codes 99453, 99454, 99457, 99458 can be utilized to monitor and manage COVID-19 patients as there is no requirement for a chronic condition.
Vivify is also using its expertise and experience as a leader in telehealth and RPM solutions to develop additional ideas to help mitigate the devastating effects of COVID-19. Multiple customers are already using Vivify’s COVID-19 screening and monitoring pathways, and we have accelerated implementations for new customers.
It is important to keep in mind that this is a rapidly changing landscape. What we understand today, and what the best practices are, may not remain the same throughout the full lifecycle of this “black swan” event. We can assure you, however, that Vivify remains committed to providing our clients with the best solutions to address this pandemic.