With the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and governments around the world taking increasingly drastic measures to reduce its spread, communities are becoming anxious about the outbreak and health systems are being overwhelmed. The United States healthcare system has not seen a more uncertain time in recent history.
On March 9th, in collaboration with several health systems across the United States, Memora Health launched a free, text-based triage and tracking system for hospitals to keep their communities informed and manage the volume of patients they’re seeing.
Individuals are able to text in to a phone number provided by their health system — anonymously and for free — and receive answers to common questions about coronavirus, go through a CDC-backed triage pathway to assess symptoms, and receive a free telehealth visit, powered by Ro, if they are at risk. At health systems with their own telemedicine services, we are able to forward patients to these internal services. Individuals do not need to download an app or log in to a portal, making this a frictionless method for accessing up-to-date information on COVID-19.
Specifically in times like this, eliminating barriers to care and information is critical. SMS is able to do this substantially better than web or app-based services.
Text ‘COVID’ to +1–623–428–0201 to try it out.
We are actively working with health systems to fully digitize their triage pathways for COVID-19, tailoring our system to the needs of each system and their communities. To-date, several hundreds of thousands of people across the United States can access this service and it is positively impacting the fight against COVID-19:
- Diverting non-critical ER visits: Memora has helped health systems divert large volumes of low-risk people away from their emergency rooms and to telehealth services that can answer their questions and conduct preliminary triage of their symptoms. This has helped reduce the burden that ERs are seeing as COVID-19 testing becomes more accessible.
- Fighting misinformation: With several conflicting sources of information about COVID across the internet and social media websites, many people are confused as to what they should believe. Memora aggregates information from the CDC, WHO, and state-level public health agencies on COVID-19 to assure that people have a reliable source of truth.
- Tracking the outbreak: By collecting valuable data on zip codes with higher volumes of symptomatic reports, our team is coordinating with federally qualified health centers and state and federal government agencies to help them determine optimal resource allocation for personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits.
- Reducing anxiety: In exceedingly uncertain times, Memora’s service is helping to keep people educated and reduce anxiety around COVID-19 while also helping individuals take the necessary safety precautions to reduce the spread and stay healthy.
Our team is excited to share two key insights from our work thus far:
I. Information Gaps
Across all the interactions that people have had on our system, specific to COVID-19, we’ve identified themes on which questions are commonly asked and what information is unclear to the large majority of people. Having analyzed several hundreds of thousands of datapoints, our team has identified the top 5 most commonly asked questions that people have for their providers regarding COVID-19:
- What are the symptoms of COVID? (45.04%)
- I want to get tested (32.68%)
- What is coronavirus? (27.77%)
- Who qualifies to get tested? (21.76%)
- What should I do to stay safe? (14.90%)
Furthermore, we have seen that 12.4% of all people using our service report at least one symptom that they think is related to coronavirus. The frequency with which various symptoms are being reported includes:
Our team is working with several companies and federal and state agencies to utilize this data to determine ways to fill information gaps that currently exist in various communities across the United States.
II. Inconsistent Triage Pathways
Interestingly, across several health systems we have worked with over the past several weeks, we have seen varying symptoms being screened for as indicators of COVID-19. Of all triage pathways our team has digitized, the frequency with which symptoms are screened for include:
It’s clear from these variations that our system, along with interventions from many other healthcare technology companies, can be used to aggregate data on symptoms that ought to be screened for, helping to standardize the risk factors that care teams assess.
In the coming days, Memora will be releasing additional services to help healthcare organizations fight COVID-19, including:
- A system for text-based screenings of physicians and hospital workers for indications of (1) COVID-19 symptoms, and (2) burnout
- Access to data for public health agencies to better understand public perception, how the disease is spreading, and symptom frequency
- Text-based care management and education programs for non-COVID patients, receiving care from health systems, on changes to their care plan and how to stay healthy
In these uncertain times, it has been inspiring to see the healthcare industry collaborate and support each other in a way that we haven’t seen before. Thank you to the front-line health system workers, physicians, surgeons, residents, nurses, medical assistants, and all other healthcare practitioners for their sacrifice and bravery in tackling COVID-19.
If the work of our team can be helpful to your health system, please reach out here or email us directly at email@example.com. We can help manage the overwhelming volume you are currently seeing and deploy a free, custom triage system within 48 hours.