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How Ro is Responding to COVID-19

ByHLTH & Ro|March 23, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team will be interviewing experts from across the ecosystem to bring the HLTH community timely facts and updates. 

About Zachariah Reitano:

Zachariah Reitano is the CEO and cofounder of Ro, a patient-driven healthcare company that powers three digital health clinics -- Roman (men’s health), Rory (women’s health) and Zero (addiction treatment) -- providing a personalized end-to-end telehealth experience from diagnosis to delivery. 

HLTH Team: Ro recently launched a Coronavirus Telehealth Assessment. What is it?

Zachariah Reitano: Ro has created a free telehealth triage service for people seeking guidance and information about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

If an individual thinks they may be experiencing signs or symptoms of the novel coronavirus, they can complete Ro’s online assessment and, if appropriate, Ro will connect them with a provider who will follow up via secure messaging, phone or video consultation.

The service is currently available nationwide (and Washington D.C.). 

HLTH Team: What are the benefits of a service like this?

Zachariah Reitano: The CDC and other public health agencies have strongly encouraged patients and providers to have remote consultations (phone, video, text) as an initial step. Telehealth services like Ro’s have key public health benefits during a crisis:

  • Unburdening the system: Through telehealth consultations, Ro can keep low-risk patients from going to the hospital or doctor’s office and free up appointments and hospital beds for people who need them most. Telehealth can mitigate the risk of health centers from getting overwhelmed with patients. Ro will help facilitate in-person care for higher risk patients.
  • Increasing safety: For low-risk patients, it might be more dangerous to spend time in a hospital or clinic than to self-quarantine at home.
  • Providing care quickly: People have easy, free access to a doctor and can avoid typically long wait times.
  • Tracking spread to help with containment: Ro is collecting valuable data about symptoms, geography, and travel history that can be shared with public health officials in an anonymized format.

HLTH Team: How does the service work?

Zachariah Reitano: Developed with guidance from infectious disease specialists, Ro’s telehealth assessment collects health information from the patient (e.g., health history, symptoms, travel history, locale, proximity to confirmed cases). Based on that information and using the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and state/local public health departments, we provide an initial risk assessment.

Those who are symptomatic or have other risk factors (e.g., travel history or proximity to confirmed cases, pre-existing/underlying conditions) will be connected to a U.S. licensed provider who will follow up via secure messaging, phone or video consultation

During the consultation, the provider will collect additional information about the patient’s symptoms and concerns, recommend the proper course of action (which may include self-quarantine), and, if recommended, instruct them to follow up with a local provider for testing and diagnosis. For patients who are recommended to seek in-person care, we will provide them resources to find a local provider so they can get the help they need. Suspected cases of COVID-19 are also reported to applicable public health authorities, as required, to help inform local and national response efforts.

Individuals who are at low risk of having contracted COVID-19 will be guided to a number of resources at our Coronavirus Resource Hub and will be encouraged to keep monitoring their symptoms. These resources are regularly updated and are based on the latest government guidelines and best practices. Our goal is that these resources will help the public understand this complex virus and help keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

Please note: Ro is not providing testing or diagnosing for COVID-19. 

HLTH Team: How can executives out there contribute to the solution with Ro?

Zachariah Reitano: As soon as we launched, companies, health care institutions, government agencies, and individuals reached out to see how they could spread the word and help. Startups wanted to offer the telehealth assessment to their employees. Online education platforms were interested in offering it to their students at home. Marketplaces wanted to offer it to their freelancers, especially those who may not be insured.

While we’re in uncharted territory and uncertain times, the optimist in me is grateful people have been willing to work together, day and night, to lend a hand in whatever way they could.

If any organization, institution, or agency would like their own branded free coronavirus telehealth assessment page and to help in whatever way they can, please fill out this form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

HLTH Team: Will Ro share any of its data with public health officials?

Zachariah Reitano: We have the ability to collect and provide relevant and anonymized data to public health officials. We would welcome their advice on the types of data that would aid their efforts. If you are part of an agency or healthcare institution that is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and think Ro could be helpful in any way, please contact covid19-feedback@ro.co.

HLTH Team: Will telemedicine be more widely adopted in a post-Coronavirus world?

Zachariah Reitano: Today, providers like Ro are focused on the public health response to COVID-19. As reported in NEJM and widely covered since COVID-19 emerged, telehealth can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the “worried well” and those with mild COVID-19 symptoms from overwhelming the healthcare system, keeping high-risk patients and providers safe. Outside of COVID-19, individuals may still need to consult with a physician and, in some cases, receive care for other conditions and acute illnesses, like sinus infections and UTIs. Telemedicine can help to treat those individuals, while also keeping those patients out of the healthcare system in this time of overwhelming need. 

Tomorrow and over the long-term, we believe that telehealth will not only be used in times of crisis, but more and more as a safe, high-quality, accessible and affordable healthcare option.