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The Toothpaste Is Not Going Back Into the Tube: Telehealth Is Here to Stay

September 30, 2020

COVID-19 upended the status quo of outpatient care. With the onset of the coronavirus this spring and widespread shelter-in-place orders, outpatient visits dropped nearly 60% in March. But virtual care was waiting in the wings, ready to help bridge the gap.

As Zipnosis Founder and CEO Jon Pearce recently put it, “This toothpaste is not going back into the tube. Telehealth will be the new normal after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.”

Zipnosis, a leader in digital telemedicine who delivers a number of Surescripts solutions to their health system customers, has experienced quadruple-digit growth in volume since the start of COVID-19.

I recently spoke with Catherine Murphy, Chief Operating Officer, about how Zipnosis has responded to the pandemic and why virtual care has been so crucial in this moment for both patients and providers.

Q: To start, can you give us a little background about Zipnosis?

A: Zipnosis was founded in 2008 with Jon Pearce’s bold vision to bring healthcare costs to $0. The technology we set out to build was one that allows a patient, using their mobile device, to get effective and high quality care from the comfort and convenience of wherever they are.

Our health system customers use our technology platform as an extension of their brick and mortar locations. Patients are provided care by the same doctors and nurse practitioners they see when they go into the clinic. Zipnosis’s asynchronous intelligent interview has been especially important in this moment as consumers are anxious and want the comfort of familiarity—specifically the familiarity of their local health system.

Q: Telehealth is playing a considerable role in the continuity of care during COVID-19. How has Zipnosis risen to the challenge?

A: With the arrival of COVID-19, our health system customers made virtual care a mission-critical tool to triage COVID patients. As a result, we have been working with our customers to keep as many non-emergency visits out of their brick and mortar locations, so their healthcare providers could focus on seeing symptomatic COVID patients and protect patients who would be safer at home. And because health systems leaned on virtual care, we saw visit volume increase by 3600% from February to March 2020.

Q: That’s astonishing but in line with the acceleration of innovation that we’re seeing across the Surescripts network.

A: That’s right. And it’s not just telehealth that’s helping to deliver care during COVID-19. The ability to e-prescribe, access a patient’s medication history, and have patient’s prescription benefit information remotely has been instrumental in keeping patients healthy and safe during this crisis.

Zipnosis would not be what it is without the connectivity to Surescripts. Eligibility & Formulary information informs the most cost-effective medication; Medication History provides the most up to date medication list for patients and providers; and geo-location to the patients’ phones allows patients to choose a convenient pharmacy location where they want to pick up their prescription.

Outside of a pandemic, these solutions are incredibly convenient and remove a lot of logistical stress for providers and patients. During a pandemic, these features are critical. It allows providers to continue to treat patients while they remain in the safety of their own homes. And it’s allowing patients to easily get their prescriptions using any number of pharmacies that have drive-through pick up or mail-order delivery. 

Q: You touch on the importance of minimizing providers’ logistical stress. Can you talk about what you’ve heard and what Zipnosis is doing about it?

A: We’ve heard from providers that the zero documentation and less than two-minute work time is such a contrast from the burden they experience working with traditional systems. We are incredibly proud to be a care accelerator tool instead of adding more time to a provider’s day. When we combine our technology with secure connectivity and rich data through the Surescripts network, we realize a whole new way for patients to get care. 

Providing tools that streamline processes are more important than ever as COVID-19 has overworked and overburdened frontline healthcare professionals. The feedback we’ve gotten from our users during COVID-19 has been overwhelming and humbling. There’s been such a positive response that we created a #CustomerLove Slack channel.

Specifically, multiple customers have shared that Zipnosis is helping their health systems stay afloat during the pandemic. And another one remarked, “It is truly amazing and making such a difference in our ability to flatten the curve and take care of our patients. I can’t tell you how many times our incident command teams have said something along the lines of ‘Thank goodness for Zipnosis.’”

Q: That’s what it’s all about! As these providers work hard on the frontlines, I’m inspired every day to work hard behind the scenes to support them by improving work processes, increasing patient safety, lowering costs and ensuring quality care. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: Naturally, it’s easy for me to talk about Zipnosis’ technology. But what is behind the technology is a team of mission-driven people who believe that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. The pandemic has allowed Zipnosis to be a part of creating lasting change by demonstrating the quality, safety, efficacy and efficiency of virtual care.  

Learn more in our new report about how the adoption and innovation of interoperable healthcare technology is accelerating across the Surescripts network.

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