Access to Care
Many restrictions placed on telehealth have been eliminated due to the pandemic and social distancing measures.
The Colorado Health Institute recently released a report on changes to telehealth and the possibility of keeping some of those changes after the pandemic ends.
In just a few days, a Colorado health care worker will start a new chapter in her career in what’s considered one of the nation’s worst coronavirus hot spots… Melissa Schuch will work as a respiratory therapist at an Tséhootsooí Medical Center, an Indian Health Services hospital located in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Over the next 13 weeks, the majority of her patients will be from the Navajo Nation.
Valley Community Healthcare Launches Telehealth System
San Fernando Valley Business Journal | May 18
Valley Community Healthcare on Friday officially launched its telehealth system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Hollywood clinic chose Colorado-based OTTO Health as its telehealth platform, which was paid for in part by a $13.4 million grant through Health Net and installed in only three weeks.
OTTO will allow patients to interact with providers through a computer or smartphone for a “full range of services and diagnoses,” the health care organization said in a statement.
Virtual hands-off medicine gets a firm hold on Colorado
Sentinel | May 8
Physical health care providers had to make the pivot to telehealth rapidly as offices closed and non-emergency medical personnel were asked to hand off their much-needed equipment to hospitals and first responders… It’s a move that makes sense and is likely to continue well into the future.
Construction Continues At Alternative Care Sites
CBS4 Denver | May 7
Construction continues at alternative care sites including the Colorado Convention Center and The Ranch.
The Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services approved $7.9 million in COVID-19 emergency funding to help pay for telemedicine and other health care projects in Colorado.
“Our administration is doing everything we can to ensure Coloradans have access to health care in safe and convenient ways during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.
“This funding will go toward innovations that include telemedicine and telemonitoring. This technology will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide Coloradans an effective and safe alternative to in-person care.”
Telemedicine is gaining popularity in remote Southwest Colorado
Durango Herald | May 4
With strict social-distancing rules intact across the state, health care providers are adapting to telehealth visits for minor care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health practitioners in Colorado say social-distancing efforts have added momentum to the growth of telehealth and telemedicine, and created opportunities to fill a growing gap in access to health care in rural areas like Southwest Colorado.
Pediatricians along Colorado’s Front Range are getting creative to try to provide needed care to kids whose parents are understandably afraid to take them outside.
Public health experts have raised concerns about a resurgence of diseases like measles both in the United States and overseas if children miss their scheduled vaccinations. Others are worried that developmental delays will go unnoticed, and doctors will lose the opportunity to ask about socioeconomic struggles and other problems that can strain families.
With that familial presence missing, nurses and doctors have taken on that role to varying degrees, spending extra time with patients, holding their hands and trying to ward off loneliness. It’s also led many hospitals to develop innovative ways for families to continue to play a role in a patients’ recovery, Hoffbauer said. Technology has been the great connector.
Clinica Colorado Launches CovidLine, Free COVID-19 Screening & Telehealth Service for Uninsured in Colorado
Clinica Colorado | April 23
Clinica Colorado, a nonprofit clinic based in Adams County Colorado, announced today that they have launched CovidLine a free hotline for COVID-19 screening and telehealth service for Coloradoans who do not have health insurance.
Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare Launches Telehealth Therapy Services Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
Grand Junction Sentinel | April 21
Solace’s telehealth therapy program allows clinicians to care for patients via live-video rather than in-person, giving families the same, top-notch level of care without putting children, families and clinicians at risk.
Within two weeks of launching the teletherapy program, Solace was providing the same number and quality of pediatric occupational, physical, speech, feeding and behavior therapy sessions as they were prior to launching the teletherapy program. Solace clinicians have provided over 20,000 telehealth sessions to Colorado children to date.
More than 10,000 Coloradans signed up for health insurance so far in special enrollment period
The Denver Channel | April 21
More than 10,000 previously uninsured people have signed up for health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado.
Those individuals were able to sign up during an emergency special enrollment period that ends April 30.
In mid-March, Colorado announced that in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it would create that special enrollment period for uninsured people to sign up for health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. Initially, the state said the marketplace would open March 20 and residents had until April 3 to sign up. But on April 2, the state said they were extending the enrollment period until the end of April.
CirrusMD Launches New Telemedicine Clinical Resources in Response to COVID-19
Grand Junction Sentinel | April 20
CirrusMD, a text-first virtual care platform, today announced new clinical resources to expand access to virtual care, addressing the needs of partners and their members and alleviating pressure on the broader health care system. This includes the launch of a self-assessment triage tool to assist in analyzing a patient’s risk of COVID-19 and the ChatFirstMD program, a web-based virtual care and telemedicine platform for states, regions and community organizations that offers immediate access to doctors, updated medical guidance, and instant peace of mind.
Virtual Visits added to over 700 UCHealth clinics
Keely Sugden | April 20
UCHealth clinics have greatly expanded Virtual Visit access to their regular primary care and specialty providers at over 700 clinics.
“So, what has changed? The short answer is, everything,” said Dr. Chris Davis, UCHealth’s medical director for Virtual Health. “The demand for virtual care has absolutely exploded. We went from seeing about 20 visits a day to 260 – over a thousand percent increase in actual visit volume.”
Colorado Access Contributes $1.2 Million to Support Community During COVID-19 Outbreak
Denver Post | April 17
Colorado Access announces the release of $1.2 million to support its provider network and community partners through COVID-19 relief efforts in the state. Given the urgency of the COVID-19 outbreak and financial impacts to providers, the funds are being distributed to support these entities so that they can continue to serve members and provide access to health care.
Funds will be allocated to more than 50 provider partners and community organizations throughout the Colorado Access service area, which includes the Denver metropolitan area. In addition to making funds available, Colorado Access has enacted some administrative changes to adapt to the COVID-19 outbreak. These changes include easing prior authorization requirements in some instances during the COVID-19 outbreak, increasing access to telehealth services, and expanding care management hours for members. Colorado Access continues to adjust business practices as necessary, based on the evolution of COVID-19 in the state.
Health care providers embrace telemedicine
Colorado Springs Indy | April 8
Many insurers and health care providers have been increasing their telehealth resources — that’s medical advice and support handled over a phone call, a text chat or a video call. If that’s possible, it’s one less opportunity for potential exposure for patients and health care professionals. Some procedures deemed noncritical may be postponed to reduce risk to patients and staff, as well as to ensure health care providers can maintain adequate resources to respond as testing uncovers more cases of COVID-19.
“By extending the special enrollment period, we are doing our part to help Coloradans get the health coverage they need,” Connect for Health CEO Kevin Patterson said in a statement announcing the extension Thursday. “If you are experiencing an unexpected loss of health coverage or a change in employment, we are ready to help you explore your options.”
Colorado Opens Health Insurance Marketplace Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
Connect for Health Colorado
Colorado’s health insurance marketplace has opened up an emergency Special Enrollment period from Friday, March 20 through Thursday, April 30, 2020 to help as many people as possible protect their health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 case numbers might be lower in smaller communities like Huerfano and Las Animas Counties for the time being. Yet hospitals in rural areas across southern Colorado are gearing up for their own surge in the disease.
Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad is currently applying social distancing policies to their own facilities, screening visitors, limiting visitors and initiating telemedicine visits in the community.
Colorado Hospitals Reassuring Expectant Mothers during Pandemic
Fox 31 | March 17
… But hospitals are taking action to protect new moms and babies. For example, staff members at Rose Medical Center in Denver, where the Olsons will deliver, are screening people as they walk in. The number of entrances and visitors are limited. “We take your health and your welfare very seriously,” said Dr. Lynn Barta, the medical director of OB-GYN hospitalists at Rose Medical Center.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado Announces Expanded Telehealth Offerings
ABC 7 Denver | March 16
Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente Colorado announced several measures Tuesday, including expanded telehealth and virtual care and the postponement of elective/non-urgent surgeries. Kaiser will also be consolidating medical offices to decrease in-person care when possible. More virtual care will help address the global shortage of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns and gloves, the company said.
Ten medical offices will stay open for certain specialty care, OB-GYN, lab, medical imaging, behavioral health, and pharmacy services.