The COVID-19 pandemic is putting intense pressure on medical centers and EMS in many ways, including the need to test potential COVID-19 patients for the virus. When done at medical facilities, such tests expose health workers to the risk of coronavirus infection. If patients are transported to the hospital by ambulance, EMTs are put at risk too.
Healthcare service provider Ready Responders is reducing this risk to health workers and EMTs by providing COVID-19 testing to potential patients in their own homes by way of the company’s app and website. Using initial telephone assessments, “Ready Responders screens patients before entering their home for COVID symptoms,” says Olan Soremekun, MD, the company’s chief medical officer. “If they screen positive, a responder—typically a certified nurse, EMT, or paramedic—will make a house visit in protective gear and set up a telemedicine visit with a clinician—typically a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant—who can order the FDA-approved COVID-19 test.”
The Ready Responders Platform
Available in Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. and southeastern Louisiana—with plans to expand to Washington, D.C., Columbia, Md., New York, Florida, California and Texas using $48 million in just-acquired financing—Ready Responders is an on-demand, technology-enabled healthcare service that provides urgent care and nonemergency services in clients’ homes or other nonmedical locations.
“We accept all insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, even if considered an out-of-network provider,” says Soremekun. “We bill the health plan, not the patient, as commercially reasonable. During the COVID-19 pandemic Ready Responders will not turn anyone away for not having insurance.”
The ability to call for telephone assessments and then book medical appointments at home means Ready Responders’ providers don’t have to go out into the community to get help. That has numerous benefits.
“This unique service platform helps patients and payers avoid expensive and often unnecessary emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, and in-patient visits by sending specialized health professionals directly to patients wherever care is needed,” Soremekun says. “Ready Responders is able to combine telehealth technology with on-scene care to assess and treat the physical, mental, and social needs of the patient for less than a full-freight hospital or outpatient visit.”
Administering COVID-19 test in patients’ homes is done under the direction of a qualified medical professional (as needed) via telemedicine.
“Our responders are also capable of checking oxygen saturation levels for patients in the home, which can help guide triage,” says Soremekun.
Since EMTs may be called in to remove seriously ill COVID-19 patients from some of these homes, it is important for EMS and healthcare centers in Ready Responders’ areas to know about the company’s safety procedures for in-home coronavirus testing. According to Soremekun, these procedures are based upon solid training, relevant precautions, and access to the appropriate personal protective equipment.
When it comes to training, Ready Responders’ personnel are taught in compliance with all federal and state regulations, with a particular focus on infection prevention and control.
“We’ve conducted training specific to COVID-19,” says Soremekun.
Precautionary practices used by Ready Responders personnel on site are monitored for compliance to prevent the spread of infectious agents. They include hand hygiene before and after patient contact, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, proper donning and doffing of PPE, and the cleaning of equipment, computers, and smartphones that enter the home.
“Ready Responders requires all responders complete a safety checklist before and after entering patients’ homes," Soremekun says. "We have also added a daily responder temperature check at the beginning of each shift as an extra precaution.”
A Timely Solution
The expansion of Ready Responders’ coverage areas is good news for mainline healthcare workers and EMTs. After all, a person who is tested for COVID-19 at home is one less person requiring contact with mainstream medical personnel and consuming hospital/EMS resources. The more this happens across the United States, the better.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for at-home health services is more important than ever to lower hospital and ER volumes and help free up beds,” says Soremekun. “To keep vulnerable patients at home in quarantine, the healthcare industry must shift to more of an at-home and telehealth model to address patient needs. Ready Responders’ platform has mitigated the need for many patients to go to ERs and hospitals to keep beds available for those who most need them, as well as helping reduce transmission by keeping those at risk at home, away from the most vulnerable as well as essential workers.”
James Careless is a freelance writer and regular contributor to EMS World.