How to stay safe and healthy at home with Providence virtual care

May 11, 2020 Providence News Team

You wake up one morning with a sore throat and a bit of a fever. Or, your child starts to show signs of a stomach bug after dinner one night. If this were any other time — say, six months or a year ago — you wouldn’t think twice about heading down to the nearest urgent care or even making an appointment with your doctor’s office.

Now, amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, heading to the clinic isn’t necessarily the go-to option. But thanks to the expertise and dedication of Providence’s Digital Innovation Group (DIG), patients now have access to a full range of telehealth services.

“We are doing significantly more virtual visits, which helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure by avoiding in-person interactions,” says Providence CEO Rod Hochman. “It’s also catapulting healthcare into the digital age.”

Read on to learn more about Providence’s telehealth offerings and how you can use them to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

COVID-19 assessment tool

If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, just look to Grace for help.

Grace is a chatbot that provides fast and secure assessment of COVID-19 symptoms. You can access the bot on Providence’s COVID-19 hub or  Providence Express Care Virtual.

Grace walks you through a series of questions about your symptoms. If the assessment shows you may be at risk for COVID-19, it will direct you to set up a telehealth appointment with a provider.

“There are many people out there who are feeling anxious or unsure about how to seek care,” says Sara Vaezy, chief digital strategy officer at Providence. “Our goal was to make sure that as many of these people as possible could have a guided experience at home.”

“There are many people out there who are feeling anxious or unsure about how to seek care,” says Sara Vaezy, chief digital strategy officer at Providence. “Our goal was to make sure that as many of these people as possible could have a guided experience at home.”

The Providence DIG partnered with Microsoft to create the COVID-19 self-assessment tool within Grace, and was one of the first health systems to offer such a triage tool. The high-speed collaboration was able to launch the assessment tool in just three days.

“Before COVID-19, we had been working on Grace as a way to help patients navigate which type of care they need,” says Maryam Gholami, chief product officer with Providence DIG. “But when COVID-19 hit, we had to serve more patients as quickly as possible and send people with the most needs directly to our clinicians.”

Virtual visits for COVID-19 symptoms

After temporarily closing 42 express care sites throughout the region to protect patients and providers, Providence re-assigned roughly 8,000 medical assistants, nurses and physician assistants to telehealth roles. This added capacity allows you to make a same-day appointment with Providence Express Care Virtual.

“COVID is just overwhelming people and pushing them to get help and I think it’s bringing to light the significant shortage of mental health providers in our country,” said Josh Cutler a Providence Behavioral Health provider and manager of the Behavioral Health concierge program. “I’m excited for what telehealth can bring to making things more accessible especially in rural areas.”

If the Grace assessment tool determines that a provider should check your symptoms, you can set up a secure video visit using your computer or phone app (Providence Health Connect).

After assessing your condition, the provider may recommend COVID-19 testing or set up virtual monitoring to keep track of your symptoms.

“The increase in virtual workspaces and social applications has brought virtual care platforms to the forefront of our vocabulary and post-COVID-19 reality,” Rod Hochman says.

“The increase in virtual workspaces and social applications — from public school teaching to informal happy hours — has brought virtual care platforms to the forefront of our vocabulary and post-COVID-19 reality,” Hochman says. “Providence has implemented important safeguards to protect sessions provided by telehealth, or video visits between patients and providers.”

Monitoring COVID-19 patients

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are well enough to stay at home, Providence providers can virtually monitor your symptoms. These monitoring tools also come in handy for staying in contact with your provider while you’re waiting on COVID-19 test results.

Your provider will instruct you on how to use the remote monitoring tools to send vital signs like temperature and blood oxygen levels via text three times a day for 14 days. This information will be used to create your virtual dashboard that can easily track your symptoms and notify your provider on how your condition is progressing.

“If you don’t need critical care in a hospital, the best place for you to be — and the best place to be monitored — is at home,” Vaezy says. “With these tools in place, we’ve been able to virtually monitor more than 1,500 patients across the Providence network.”

The virtual monitoring combines two platforms that have come out of Providence: Xealth and Twistle. Xealth, which was incubated with Providence’s DIG, is a digital health platform that providers use to prescribe apps, services and content that integrates directly with your electronic medical record (EMR). Twistle, which is a Providence Ventures portfolio company, helps request and collect patients’ symptom data via text.

Caring for patients without COVID-19

While COVID-19 may be top-of-mind for most patients and providers right now, it’s crucial that patients without COVID-19 are still able to safely access care.

With Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access treatment for many common conditions, including:

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Cough
  • Stomach flu
  • Stomach pain
  • Women’s health needs
  • Pink eye
  • Rash or skin issues
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Sinus infection
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

The virtual platform takes most insurance plans and, if you don’t have insurance, the cost is $49 per visit.

If you don’t need immediate care, you can also schedule telehealth appointments with your regular Providence provider, including behavioral health sessions.

Maintaining access to mental health resources

Telehealth options have become especially crucial for providing mental health resources for patients and caregivers. Thanks to the robust virtual care system, Providence can continue to offer counseling services and telepsychiatry during a time where many people are feeling a strain on their mental wellness.

“Whether you’re a caregiver or a patient, this is an extremely stressful time,” Vaezy says. “Having mental health support is essential right now.”

Providence has also partnered with SilverCloud, a computerized cognitive behavioral therapy tool. The digital platform, which has been shown to help people with depression and anxiety, offers a variety of virtual courses focused around mental health, wellbeing or living with a chronic condition. It’s available to both Providence patients and caregivers.

“Whether you’re a caregiver or a patient, this is an extremely stressful time,” Vaezy says. “Having mental health support is essential right now.”

If you need care, get care. Don't delay.

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence.

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Find a doctor

If you feel unwell and would like to consult your doctor, Providence Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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You can also learn how your state’s department of public health is responding to the situation:

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Montana

New Mexico

Oregon

Texas

Washington

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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