In recognition of National Doctors’ Day, we’re proud to honor SteadyMD’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Josh Emdur, who last March began volunteering for the Colorado Innovation Response Team to help Colorado develop innovative solutions to help fight the pandemic. Out of this work, he partnered with COVIDCheck Colorado to develop a free COVID-19 testing system for his home state of 5 million residents. Since launching the program in June 2020, COVIDCheck Colorado has tested more than 600,000 residents and performed more than 18,000 follow-up telemedicine visits, with the support of Dr. Emdur and hundreds of SteadyMD clinicians, demonstrating the power of technology in improving healthcare access.
Launching & Scaling a Telehealth-Supported Testing Operation
“Our mission was big—to remove the barrier to COVID-19 testing for all residents in Colorado, and to give them the follow-up care they wanted and needed from the safety and comfort of their homes,” said Dr. Emdur.
COVIDCheck Colorado, a social benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investments, was launched to help Colorado residents navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, while also keeping the economy strong and communities safe. Doubling as Chief Medical Officer for SteadyMD and COVIDCheck Colorado, Dr. Emdur helped build a robust tech stack aimed at coordinating the many volunteers, paid clinicians, and medical students needed to make COVIDCheck Colorado a success.
Though everyday tools in many of our lives, the stack of communications technology and operations platforms Dr. Emdur leveraged is not common in healthcare. COVIDCheck Colorado partnered Primary.Health to power the testing logistics, and Dr. Emdur, with the help of software developers, was able to connect those APIs to work with donated RingCentral, Zoom, and Slack accounts to allow the remote team to provide HIPAA-compliant care.
“Within a few weeks of launch, we went from doing a few hundred tests per day to performing 5,000 to 10,000 tests per day. We were able to scale quickly because of the combination of strong, tech-driven operations, and the incredible volunteer clinician team,” said Dr. Emdur.
As the testing picked up steam, the need for telehealth follow-up visits grew rapidly. That’s when Dr. Emdur tapped SteadyMD for access not only to more clinicians, but also structured clinical leadership, securing malpractice insurance, providing collaborative practice agreements, and further shoring up the communications technology.
COVIDCheck Colorado’s Outcomes
From when it was first launched in June 2020 to March 2021, COVIDCheck Colorado has tested more than 600,000 residents, nearly 25% of the total number of residents tested statewide and more than 10% of the state’s total population. The organization runs 36 testing sites and partners with even more organizations. To date, there have been over 15,000 telemedicine follow-up visits that COVIDCheck Colorado has performed.
The benefit of easy, free, and convenient testing in Colorado helped dissipate concerns for many individuals about their COVID-19 status. And by having clinicians at the ready via telehealth, COVIDCheck Colorado helped keep patients with mild symptoms out of the hospitals. Early research from the World Health Organization found that approximately 80% of known COVID-19 cases result in mild symptoms that can be cared for at home.
“Essentially, we were able to put people at ease about whether or not they had the virus and advise them on next steps in the event that they did test positive,” said Dr. Emdur. “Those efforts helped reduce emergency room visits, further decreasing the risk of infection spread and also reserving capacity for acute patients.”
COVIDCheck Colorado’s success has inspired others; volunteers in California reached out to learn more and replicate the model in their own state. Similarly, COVIDCheck Colorado has partnered with major employers and school systems across the nation to build and deploy better testing operations. These days, COVIDCheck Colorado has moved beyond testing and is applying lessons learned to mass vaccination; the organization has a statewide registry and partners with municipalities and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to deploy vaccines.
With COVIDCheck Colorado, hundreds of doctors (many of which were retired), nurses, physician assistants, and medical students were able to be of service to help their state get through the pandemic at a time when it was needed most. They also proved the power that comes with modernizing healthcare delivery. The group’s effort and success demonstrate that the strong technology infrastructure of any care operation helps an organization scale quickly, and ultimately improve care access.
On National Doctors’ Day, and every day, the team at SteadyMD expresses our deep gratitude to all involved in the COVIDCheck Colorado efforts, and doctors everywhere that are stepping up to care for, protect, and keep our communities safe and healthy. Thank you, Dr. Emdur!