Episode 14: Responding to COVID-19 with Pre-Existing Technology

Miriam Paramore, President of OptimizeRx, shares how the coronavirus is highlighting the importance of digital communication in the healthcare industry.

Miriam Paramore has spent years focusing on improving digital communication in the healthcare space, but now that COVID-19 is creating new challenges for patients and providers, her company’s technology is more important than ever. 

In this episode of How I Transformed This, Virsys 12 founder and CEO Tammy Hawes and her co-host Clark Buckner talk with Paramore about the importance of rapid transformation and the ways OptimizeRx is helping to fight the coronavirus.

Connecting Industry Stakeholders

As a digital health communication platform, OptimizeRx is well-positioned to help people communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company works to connect groups of healthcare industry stakeholders, from life sciences to doctors to patients. 

Providers can use the platform to learn about new drugs and other important information without having to leave the electronic health record (EHR), and patients can receive vital information via text message, like assistance with taking complicated medications. 

It’s easy to see why these tools are important in a time of quarantine and social distancing, but Paramore believes digital communication can help the industry achieve other goals as well. 

“We have a huge medication affordability issue, we have an enormous problem with medication adherence which drives up cost, and we have pretty poor outcomes. And then we have care management issues,” she explained. “We’re focused on helping the industry perform better and helping patients get better quicker, by focusing on access, affordability, and adherence.”

Pivoting with Pre-Existing Technology

Since OptimizeRx already had the building blocks for digital communication in place, the company has been able to quickly develop new tools that are helping to keep people informed about COVID-19. 

“You have these extraordinary moments where you’re like ‘What is happening?’ and it seems so surreal. Then you ask yourself what you can do to be part of any sort of a solution, Paramore said. “For us as a company, it just puts a spotlight on why it’s so important to communicate digitally as an industry.”

For providers, they have developed a system that pushes updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directly into the EHR, making it easier to keep up with the latest news and recommendations. 

“This is a moment that’s just extraordinary around how important it is to have very timely, accurate digital communication,” Paramore said. “For providers who are still in their offices and in hospitals across the country — as they’re getting more information about where the virus is, where the tests are, that sort of thing — we use our digital communication network to push out to thousands of healthcare providers who are connected to our network.”

On the patient side, OptimizeRx has adapted a new version of its patient engagement SMS-based texting system. Anyone who texts “VIRUS” to 55150 will start receiving CDC-sourced guidelines and announcements straight to their phones, along with information about the origins of the virus and how to protect yourself from contracting it. 

“We all have a lot of apps on our smartphones, but often we don’t want to open up or load a new app. But everyone likes texts, so that’s why we have focused on interactive text messaging,” Paramore explained. 

Seeing the Need for Change

Even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, Paramore hopes that the lessons it’s teaching the healthcare industry will remain. 

Patients and practitioners alike are realizing how important it is to be able to communicate digitally, and they’re seeing that this kind of communication is possible. 

Additionally, this situation is showing people how rapidly transformation can occur, even in an industry where change has typically happened slowly.

“To see us be able to move so quickly with our partners to get this stuff out to the point of care, it shows what you can do when people are really motivated to work together,” she said. “I have been in the industry for a long time, and I like seeing this speed. We wouldn’t have been able to do this ten years ago with the tech we all had. We can do it now, and you’re seeing a lot of companies lean in.”

“We’re just all in this together, and we’re trying to figure out what we can do to help and then do it.”

 

For tips and information sourced directly from the CDC, Text VIRUS to 55150 to subscribe to the OptimizeRx service. Users who opt-in will receive as-needed updates as more data and information is released. The program is delivered through OptimizeRx’s patient engagement platform, and it’s free for all users. Learn more here.

 

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