How Healthcare Providers Are Reacting to COVID-19
by Chloe Bowen
Paubox has over 2,000 customers in all 50 states and over 10 countries. They range from solo practitioners to large healthcare conglomerates.
Recently, we reached out to our customers to find out how they are managing the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, and we discovered a few trends.
Profiles of customers interviewed
Two customers use Paubox Email API, which allows developers to integrate with their IT infrastructure.
The companies we interviewed span a variety of healthcare industries.
- 4 solo practitioner therapists/psychiatrists:
- 3 therapy/psychiatry group practices:
- 2 reimbursement and provider support specialists:
- 2 telemedicine providers:
- 1 dentist: Smiles International
- 1 social work agency: Quality Care
- 1 home healthcare provider: Nizhoni Health
Although these companies represent a wide swath of the healthcare system, we saw some trends emerge in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Educating the public about COVID-19
A number of customers we spoke to have been educating others about coronavirus.
As experts in infectious disease, the team at Nod Specialists has been very involved with the local media near its headquarters in Phoenix.
As Terra Durbin from Quality Care explained, “It would be impossible for me to contact all 72 of my staff and communicate with them individually . . . [Email] is the primary if not the only method of communication.”
Additional pre-screening for patients
Some of the customers we spoke to have updated their patient screening processes to reflect new coronavirus protocols.
Nod Specialists has added a COVID-19 Assessment tool to its website. Patients answer questions about their symptoms, and a doctor calls them at a scheduled time to assess.
ZiphyCare is adding additional questions to its symptom checker to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms before sending someone to their home.
Radix Health sends alerts to patients prior to medical appointments, asking them to reschedule if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
“We’ve been able to help load balance for providers,” said Akshay Birla of Radix. “Patients aren’t showing up when they’re not supposed to. At the same time, as slots open up, other patients who were on a waiting list can get it.”
Transitioning to telehealth
Where possible, the customers we spoke to who were not already offering telemedicine quickly added the option to their services.
The transition to telehealth has been easier for some Paubox customers than for others.
“I think [COVID-19] is a real wake up call, especially for the mental health community that has been really, really slow to take initiative and change the way they do business,” said TJ Walsh.
Scott Salathe had never performed virtual therapy sessions before. “For me,” Scott admitted, “it was starting from scratch. Just two weeks ago, I had no telehealth platform.”
On the other hand, Deanna Barton of Artspiration has offered online therapy for over a year.
In an effort to help other therapists who are not as tech savvy make the transition, Deanna recently conducted a best practices for online therapy workshop for other art therapists.
“There are a lot of questions and a lot of people don’t know what to do, Deanna explained. “I’m trying to utilize my expertise to guide others and get them set up.”
Paubox helps customers maintain a continuity of care
Without Paubox, it would have been much more difficult for Scott Salathe to tell his 50 patients about switching to online therapy.
“I suppose I may have had to call them and leave them messages and play phone tag with people. That would have been infuriating, and could have lasted weeks,” he said.
With Paubox, Quality Care was “able to switch very easily to telehealth services without any interference in our service delivery,” Terra Durbin said. “And that is one less worry that I have in a constant state of worry at this point.”
Paubox offers protection from hackers during critical time
The rapid worldwide spread of COVID-19 has spurred new cyber threats from criminals utilizing the panic for personal gain.
“Any day of the week we are deflecting dangerous spoof emails,” Dave Ledoux of Nizhoni Health explained.
“But when scenarios like COVID-19 arise, the volume of bogus and opportunistic emails really ramps up. [But] for my Nizhoni employees? They don’t even exist!”
“This is [hackers’] prime season to try and break into secure data,” Danielle Pantalone of Lincoln Reimbursement Solutions explained. “[I] very much appreciated that we already have those levels of protection in place going into this especially.”
Customers appreciate Paubox’s seamlessness and ease of use
What we heard over and over again from the customers we interviewed was that they like how modern and user friendly Paubox’s suite of solutions is.
Prior to Paubox, Brad Larson Sanchez of Portland Mental Health & Wellness considered choosing Virtru.
He soon discovered however, “their system required users to log in and create a user password to read our emails, and just no one would read them.”
Dave Ledoux also researched the market before deciding on Paubox.
“I looked at Zix, I looked at Virtru, I looked at Sharefile. They all revolve around portals,” said Dave. “If you talk to any vendor or provider, the moment you say ‘portal,’ you see the eyes roll back into their head.”
Bergina Isbell from Led Life agrees. “Whenever I would get encrypted email from other people from other organizations,” she said, “I’d have to . . . make up a password and sign in. And honestly . . . I avoided those emails like the plague.”
One of the main reasons Brian Pollack of Hilltop Behavioral Health uses Paubox is because patients are not required to log into a portal or go through any additional steps to read his email.
“[Using Paubox] takes out 5 minutes for the 70 people – Think about that: 70 x 5 is 350 minutes just to get into an encryption box. That’s half a day!”
With Paubox’s suite of tools, our customers can focus on updating patients about their changing policies during the coronavirus health crisis, instead of worrying about HIPAA compliance for email.