Uninsured Massachusetts residents now have 24-7 access to free COVID-19 telehealth visits following a new partnership between Doctor on Demand and the Commonwealth.
According to the telehealth provider's announcement, the virtual visits will handle questions an uninsured resident may have about the disease's symptoms. Additionally, it will also support those who have been tagged by Massachusetts' contact-tracing program and are in need of telehealth care.
The deal comes not long after the telehealth provider and MassHealth, the state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program administrator, agreed to a similar COVID-19 arrangement for its 1.8 million plan members.
Both uninsured and Medicaid residents can access the service through the Android or iOS Doctor on Demand app, as well as through the company's webpage.
WHY IT MATTERS
Doctors On Demand said that it has seen a nearly 200% spike in visits among Massachusetts residents compared to the same time last year, highlighting an increased demand for virtual care amid the COVID-19 crisis.
With experts warning of the virus' amplified risks for underserved populations, this deal provides a new resource to those with the least access to care.
"During the COVID-19 emergency, Massachusetts has made unprecedented efforts to eliminate barriers to health care access, including expansive coverage of telehealth services," Acting Medicaid Director Amanda Cassel Kraft said in a statement. "MassHealth is excited to announce this partnership with Doctor On Demand to provide medical support to our members and uninsured residents seeking guidance on COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors."
THE LARGER TREND
It's no exaggeration to say that telehealth has emerged as a key technology over the past few months. Alongside reports of increased call volumes and expanded service offerings among vendors, CMS has been steadily expanding telehealth benefits and loosening restrictions, while the FCC has begun distributing millions in telehealth infrastructure investments. Similarly, a number of brick-and-mortar healthcare providers have been beefing up their remote-care offerings.