As the world faces the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, healthcare providers are scrambling—for supplies, for workers, to manage caseloads, and to prepare for an uncertain future.
One way providers can prepare is by allocating resources where they are most needed. Enabling providers to do just that, in an easier and more streamlined way, is priority #1 for patient communication platform CipherHealth.
The company provides specialized, flexible programs for hospital systems and healthcare providers across the country that allow them to conduct automated outreach screenings, with implementation taking just a few days.
Now, as the nation faces COVID-19 and the long term ramifications of this health crisis, CipherHealth has launched a screening outreach program specific to COVID-19 to ensure that patients who may have symptoms of the virus do not arrive for elective procedures and tests and potentially expose others. The program also provides patients with information on where to seek care and facilitates a direct call with a member of the care team to reschedule procedures and further screen for identified symptoms. They rely on Twilio to make it happen.
CipherHealth gives healthcare providers—which are often overwhelmed even at the best of times, and who face critical circumstances today—a way to streamline essential patient communications and screening so provider time is spent caring for patients, not sifting through paperwork and hunting down contact information.
“It is an unprecedented time in healthcare as we face caring for increasing numbers of patients affected by the virus with limited capacity. Our vital healthcare resources are constrained in ways never seen before,” said Lisa Romano, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at CipherHealth. “Particularly concerning is the increasing need for healthcare staff to quarantine for 14 days after exposure to or acquiring the virus. Preservation of staff resources is critical during this time of crisis and any task that takes them away from direct patient care must be addressed using technology whenever possible.”
“With CipherHealth’s technology, the patient receives either an automated phone call or text message,” she continued. “From there, they'll answer a series of questions through their keypad. "If their response triggers a positive screening, a provider reaches out to the patient for a deeper dive symptom screening and assessment of comorbidities. This ‘triage’ approach is essential to ensuring rapid response to those most in need.”
To power the outbound Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and SMS screeners, CipherHealth turned to Twilio. It was the natural choice, explained Product Manager Jeremy Neuman. Twilio had the necessary product suite—CipherHealth employs Twilio Programmable Voice and Twilio Programmable SMS to power phone calls and text messaging—and was a reliable provider that could handle the volume of messages and phone calls CipherHealth supports thanks to the Twilio Super Network, he explained.
Twilio’s ability to scale and launch quickly was also a major deciding factor, Romano said.
“At the end of the day, we need a vendor that's going to be as agile as we are, and we were able to get the COVID-19 screening program up and running within 48 hours,” she said. “That type of flexibility is so critical, and we’re also launching new use cases as we speak.”
At the end of the day, we need a vendor that's going to be as agile as we are, and we were able to get the COVID-19 screening program up and running within 48 hours.
In addition to offering its screening and outreach system to providers nationwide, CipherHealth has also developed a testing outreach program to address the growing demand for testing, and the backlog of tests many providers are facing, Romano said.
“As tests become more available, results need to be proactively communicated with patients. If you have someone test positive for COVID, you have to let them know so they can self quarantine and monitor for additional symptoms,” she said. “That type of outreach is critical during this time, and if your resources are being used to call patients just to tell them what their test results are, that's not going to be the most effective use of people’s time when they could focus on providing care.”
Neuman said he’s glad the company is able to support taxed health care providers in a difficult and stressful time, and that the entire CipherHealth team is working on new, innovative ways to make providers’ lives easier so they’re able to manage the ongoing crisis and provide critical care.
“I think the work we're doing here related to COVID-19 outreach is absolutely pivotal for the healthcare systems. They're all really swamped right now, on a number of different initiatives,” he said. “Where Cipher is really coming into play in the community, making sure that patients interacting with the health care system are being reached, to prevent any additional overloading of the healthcare system.”