Closing Gaps In Chronic Disease Management Through Teladoc® and Babylon
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of dealing with a global health crisis, doctors faced a serious problem: helping patients with chronic conditions. These people who relied on preventive care, ongoing visits, lab tests, and other means to manage their diseases were now finding it impossible to gain access to nonemergency care.
In the early stages of the pandemic, it was widely agreed-upon that patients should only go to their provider’s office if absolutely necessary. But soon, that idea turned into a question for healthcare providers. Is there a way to provide some of the assistance a patient could get from urgent care in their own home?
Much of society pushed toward a more virtual world during the lockdowns – and healthcare was no different. Within months of the first lockdown, Centene met the problem head-on and made a successful leap into providing more help through virtual care than ever before.
“We really doubled down on telehealth so our existing provider networks could be available to deliver care to their members during the pandemic.” said Gale Patterson, Staff Vice President of Provider Engagement. “We already had a broader relationship with Teladoc; Babylon was just in a couple of markets, but we went through the process of expanding our networks through those services.”
Dr. Vincent Nelson, Corporate Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, knows that, prior to the pandemic, many providers had not used virtual care. But once it was needed, telehealth was quickly adopted. Dr. Nelson said,
“If there’s a bright spot that occurred during the pandemic, it’s the significant increase in adoption of, and even preference of, many providers utilizing telehealth to care for their patients.”
Dr. Vincent Nelson
Corporate Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Medical Officer
These platforms gave providers training on technology best practices and how to effectively deliver care in a virtual setting. Patterson said, “There’s a lot about virtual care that’s different in terms of understanding how to get patients to describe more specifically what they need help with when doctors can’t physically examine them in person, and how to handle things like bedside manner issues online.”
Thanks to Centene expanding telehealth services, the loss of chronic care maintenance and preventive care for those individuals wanting to stay out of care facilities has been mitigated. And now there is a full spectrum of specialists that are available virtually, not just primary care providers. If a patient needs to find a face-to-face visit, that flexibility is available as well. Buckeye Health Plan has care managers ready to help patients, along with scheduling in-person visits to help further provide care. But Dr. Nelson warns that not all the care gaps have been covered just yet.
“Colonoscopies declined by 88 percent during the peak of COVID-19 and are still 33 percent lower than normal at the most recent review of the data,” said Dr. Nelson. “Mammograms and Pap smears, which fell 77 and 80 percentrespectively, are still down 23 and 25 percent.”
Although these cancers are common, they can also be treatable if caught early in their development. And that, Dr. Nelson believes, is why it is crucial that healthcare providers coordinate efforts to get all age-appropriate patients screened for these cancers by their providers on schedule.
Dr. Nelson said, “Many of us are still apprehensive about visiting hospitals and clinics due to COVID-19 risks, so providers should be utilizing telehealth when appropriate as a means to engage more of their patients on the importance of gettingscreenings and checkups during virtual care visits.”
Providers can take full advantage of these services and learn more by getting in touch with Buckeye Health Plan.
Staff Vice President of Provider Engagement