End the Disparities
April 21, 2020Blog
On March 23, 2020, the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF)–a Washington, DC-based
non-profit focused on what’s best for the patient and building sustainable healthy communities– participated in a telephone town hall with Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Chairwoman Dr. Robin Kelly to educate over 100,000 people on the threats of COVID-19 and how the federal, state and local leaders are assisting communities in general. NMQF aims to assist healthcare providers, professionals, administrators, researchers, policymakers, and community and faith-based organizations in delivering appropriate health care to minority communities. This assistance must be based on data, science, research, and analysis that lead to the effective organization and management of system resources to improve the quality and safety of health care for the entire U.S. population, including minorities. Because of both the public’s desire to learn more about coronavirus and its impact and our mission, NMQF decided to begin hosting weekly webinars throughout the pandemic. This would keep their stakeholders abreast of various items that have and will impact them.
On April 17th RoweDocs CEO, Tisha Rowe, discussed opportunities to increase access to virtual services with NMQF as a part of the weekly webinar series. Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician
contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth was becoming more and more important in the treatment of patients. With so many barriers to appropriate access to care–economic, education, transportation, distance, etc.–use of telehealth services were becoming an integral part of patient care. This pandemic is truly showing the need for the expansion of telehealth services. In fact, one of the largest provisions of the recent CARES Act provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for new programs focusing on telehealth. This webinar explored the potential benefits and shortcomings of the widespread implementation of telehealth.
If you missed the webinar view the REPLAY here and review the questions from the webinar below.
Q – What about the access to the technologies to be able to utilize these virtual services, (internet, laptops, tablets etc.) Are there programs in place to provide the necessary technology?
A – Most telemedicine visits can be done from a laptop. tablet or smart phone. For communities with limited access to devices or internet, the FCC and USDA have Telehealth Grants available for health providers.
Q- How are you leveraging (and billing) for pharmacists to support your telemedicine practice?
A – Polypharmacy is a big issue especially in elderly individuals. At RoweDocs we have clinical pharmacists available to see patients for Medicational Management visits. This service is usually covered by insurance.
Q – Have you considered the integration of Community Health Workers in Telehealth esp as it relates to reducing mistrust and privacy concerns of patients?
A – Yes, RoweDocs works with Health Navigators to help increase awareness and build trust with communities in need. We also have a Health Ambassador program for influencers who want to help improve the health of minority communities.
Q – What do you use to capture the essence of the education conversation and send content to patients?
A – Patient education is an integral part of the patient visit and after the patient visit we also send information to the patient via email. Our social media channels are also a source or regular patient education.
Q – How is telehealth equipment maintained, i.e. sanitized, at various locations, i.e. faith-based institutions?
A – Each telemedicine facility is responsible for implementing their own sterilization protocol.
Q – We love AthenaHealth. Just last week, they just launched a “telemedicine” option to communicate only with iPhone users. What have you used to visually communicate with prior to this and with non-iPhone users? What have you used for visual communication for telemedicine?
A – RoweDocs is one of the few Athenahealth telemedicine partners. We use a HIPAA compliant video platform to communicate with patients.
Q Can you please describe your workflow with an individual patient?
A – Step 1 – Register at rowedocs.com & Request an Appointment
Step 2 – Appointment is confirmed by a Clinical Care Coordinator
Step 3 – Video Chat with a Doctor
Q – Please give examples of telemonitoring.
A – The patient is given a digital blood pressure monitor. All of the blood pressure readings are sent to the doctor electronically. If the numbers are abnormal the doctor can schedule a virtual visit to discuss and adjust meds.
Q – The brevity of the office visit can result in delayed diagnosis and treatment and this has been very disturbing for at-risk populations…rushing through a virtual visit can have real-world consequences. How do we ensure equity in telehealth so patients aren’t dismissed?
A – See providers you trust. This has never been an issue with our organization. If a physician is taking a thorough history and educating the patient the visits should be 10-15 minutes depending on the number of complaints and complexity of the medical history. Many telemedicine companies are seeing patients in 3-5 minutes without and oversight or regulation. This is problematic and puts profits over patients.
How You Can Help
If you would like to help improve access to care in minority communities here is how you can help.
1. Join the RoweDocs team as a Health Ambassador. Ambassadors have access to discounted health services and gift cards for populations in need.
2. Encourage supplier diversity in your organization. Share RoweDocs with your benefits manager.
3. Share information about telemedicine with your schools, church, library and other community organizations.