Bridging the Divide Between Telehealth and In-Person Care

Written by Ro 

Written by Ro 

last updated: Jun 16, 2020

4 min read

Finding a flight has never been easier than it is today. With just your destination in mind, you can use services like Expedia, Priceline, Kayak and many others to search for flight options seamlessly all on one platform. These results can then be filtered by factors like airport, availability, carrier, price, and number of connections, helping travelers to find the flight that works best for their schedule, budget, and travel preferences. Services like these have taken a lot of complexity out of travel planning and have helped people make better, more informed decisions that improve their overall travel experience.

Imagine if we could bring this centralized and simplified approach to finding the right doctor to patients nationwide.

At Ro, our mission is to be a patient’s first call for all of their healthcare needs. Sometimes that need is guiding our patients to the appropriate in-person care. This can happen when a patient’s needs are unsuitable for telehealth, when a patient requires additional services that are best or can only be facilitated by an in-person provider, or if a patient needs help finding an in-person provider. When that is the case, we want to help guide our patients to the best in-person care for them, and we want that experience to be as simple as possible.

Introducing Ro’s Partnership with Ribbon Health

Ro is partnering with Ribbon Health, an innovative healthcare data company, to help seamlessly connect patients to in-person care when and where they need it and promote better continuity of care between telehealth and in-person care. Now, patients can easily find in-person primary and specialty care providers nationwide based on specialty, location, services offered, and accepted insurance directly on Ro’s telehealth platform. Powered by Ribbon Health’s accurate and reliable provider database, Ro-affiliated providers can seamlessly make a recommendation for patients when they are better served by others and help them navigate the already challenging healthcare system to find the best in-person care for them.

Accurate provider information has been historically difficult to access. There is no centralized source of information like there is for travel. In some states, providers are only required to update their information yearly, and in others, there is no requirement. This has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, many doctors’ offices closed due to stay-at-home orders, and now after they have reopened many have adjusted their staff, services, hours, and more. This has made reliable information on which providers are open, when they’re open, what services they provide, what insurance they accept, and how to contact them even more difficult to find.

Ribbon’s comprehensive provider database is nationwide and continuously updated to help patients find the appropriate in-person care no matter where they are. By integrating Ribbon’s provider directory technology into our telehealth platform, Ro-affiliated providers can help patients find providers in their area, when needed, by easily pre-filling the specialty of the physician they should see and using the patient’s zip code on file. Patients can then further filter results by insurance coverage, languages spoken, and provider gender.

Ro’s partnership with Ribbon Health showcases what’s possible when we connect telehealth and in-person care more closely — expanding access to care, increasing transparency around price and quality of care, and promoting the continuity of care.

Nearly half of Americans skipped or delayed needed medical care because of COVID-19; yet, as stay-at-home restrictions ease, most expect to get that delayed care in the next three months. During the pandemic, many patients used telehealth for triage and remote care to stay safe at home and help reduce the burden on hospitals and clinics. Many found the experience not only convenient, but effective in delivering high-quality healthcare and plan to use it in the future.

48% of Americans delayed needed medical care because of COVID-19. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Now, telehealth can continue to support patients by serving as a complement to in-person care, and as an entry or return to the healthcare system as patients become more comfortable seeking in-person care. If a patient can tap into the convenience of telehealth to point them in the right direction for their unique healthcare needs, telehealth can not only reduce the friction it takes to finding the appropriate care, but it can also help patients make more informed healthcare decisions and ultimately help them achieve better health outcomes through more frequent provider interactions and continuous care.

Our partnership with Ribbon is just one step in continuing to improve the healthcare experience and empowering patients with the information they need to access high-quality, affordable healthcare. Eighty two percent of patients want more information about the cost of health services prior to seeking care. Would you book a flight without knowing the cost first? Probably not. Similarly, 77 percent of doctors have no publicly available information on the quality of their services. Would you book a flight on a carrier without looking at reviews from other travelers? We have, and it’s not a good idea.

Ro and Ribbon Health are both committed to providing patients more transparency around cost and quality of care. In the future, we can add Ribbon Health’s innovative features, including quality indicators and cost estimators. Ribbon Health’s quality indicators include information such as a provider’s relative experience with procedures and conditions and the cost-effectiveness of that procedure relative to other providers in the same geography and accepted insurance. Additionally, Ribbon Health’s cost estimator tools filter provider search results by the estimated cost of the health services they provide, so patients know before stepping into the doctor’s office what to expect.

Think back to your own healthcare journey. How many times have you’ve been to the doctor only to be told you need to see another specialist, taking up more of your time and incurring more costs? How many times have you been surprised by a medical bill after a doctor’s visit? How many times have you been disappointed by the care you’ve received? One is too many times.

Together, Ro and Ribbon Health are working to change that. If we can continue to bridge the divide between telehealth and in-person care, we can help more patients reach their desired destination for better health.