As the 2019 Novel Coronavirus spreads across the world, it is clear that health systems are unprepared. We’ve seen this in China, now in Italy, and there is increasing concern we here in the United States are next. This lack of readiness shows itself as hospital beds fill and emergency rooms are cramped, test results are taking too long to come back, and medical teams don’t have access to needed protective equipment to stay safe.
At Forward, we believe that technology can help alleviate many of the issues associated with triaging potential cases, isolating those who are sick, and slowing the spread.
A few weeks ago, we rolled out an update to the Forward app, making a COVID-19 remote risk assessment available to our members. Members are guided through a series of questions that evaluate their symptoms, places of travel, and other risk factors to provide a recommendation on testing, health monitoring, and level of precaution. Automating this intake process and initial results review increases the capacity of our doctors and medical team, while removing the potential for human error. This is especially important as clinicians take on more during this crisis. The tool allows our doctors to have the time to care for those most in need, while making sure everyone has access to information relevant to them.
As we shared as this crisis took shape, our mission as healthcare providers has always extended beyond the individuals we care for today. Our mission is to serve everyone — to do whatever we can for those in need. We know that the traditional healthcare system can’t absorb the demand this crisis is creating, and we’re putting our energy into caring for our members, and expanding our reach to those in our communities. So late last week, we made our remote COVID-19 Risk Assessment available to all. This open access allows anyone to get guidance on testing, quarantine, and care, regardless of insurance status, income level, or proximity to a doctor’s office. Providing guidance remotely keeps people home who would otherwise venture out to urgent care — keeping the community safer and decreasing the chance of spreading the virus.
In the first few days alone, we’ve had thousands of people utilize this free resource. We’ve triaged the sick to testing centers, calmed the fears of the healthy, and provided guidance on the best ways to limit the spread of this infectious virus. Though some of our policy leaders may believe it is too late to slow the spread, we don’t agree. There is still time to impact the number of individuals who will get sick from COVID-19, and we’re doing our part to make a difference.
We have a tough road ahead, but we are not backing down. We are actively updating our care plans as information emerges and are rolling out new features that enable us to continue providing high-quality care. We are now offering drive-through testing at multiple Forward locations, making it easier for our members and safer for our doctors and medical teams. We are exploring at-home testing and figuring out how to make virtual visits as valuable and informative as in-person appointments. There is a lot to do, but we are confident that together we can change the future of healthcare for the better. This is just the beginning.
We know many of you are worried about your risk of COVID-19. We’re here to help you assess your risk and get care as needed, including keeping you up to date on testing in your area, as medically appropriate and available. Take our risk assessment here.