Partners Deploy Specially Trained Clinicians to Make At-Home Testing Possible Across Texas
AUSTIN, Texas, March 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the need for efficient COVID-19 testing growing increasingly urgent, Wheel and imaware™ have formed a partnership to provide home-based testing within FDA guidelines to patients across Texas, administered by a licensed health professional and supported by telehealth. The companies are combining their areas of expertise to help people at the highest risk or with limited access to testing get screened sooner in order to receive care by specially trained clinicians through telemedicine.
The test is administered by a healthcare professional who performs the sample collection in the home environment, aligning with FDA guidelines on COVID-19 testing. Though tests are currently available only to Texas residents, the partners are working swiftly to make tests accessible nationwide as soon as possible.
The coordinated effort brings together telehealth partners who specialize in different aspects of care delivery, along with a lab that can process tests rapidly and in compliance with CDC and FDA protocols. Wheel provides virtual care clinicians specially trained in CDC-guided COVID-19 care strategies; imaware provides the tech-enabled patient portal and the CDC Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) home-based tests, and national CLIA-certified lab partners will provide access to high-quality laboratory services that can scale up testing operations immediately to meet demand.
“In this evolving health crisis, our highest priority is to ensure that the people at highest risk get the accurate testing and care they need,” said Michelle Davey, CEO of Wheel. “By providing a home-based option for testing that starts with a virtual clinical assessment and then is administered in-home by a registered clinician, we are making more tests available to those who need them most -- ensuring that tests are not directed away from areas of greatest need.”
“Combining virtual care with compliant, home-based sample collection and rapid lab testing is the next step in activating the nation’s resources in the smartest way possible, and our partnership is bringing that to life. We are prioritizing the patient at every step in this process,” said Jani Tuomi, cofounder of imaware.
The CDC-approved test, administered in a patient’s home by a licensed clinician and completed by an FDA-authorized laboratory, is accompanied with screening to ensure that those at higher risk or those impacted by scarcity of testing resources receive the tests in accordance with rapidly changing protocols. The process begins with a 10-question risk assessment via the imaware patient portal, which determines whether the patient is deemed eligible for testing. For patients that qualify for the test, the Wheel clinician orders an imaware test to be delivered to their home within 24 hours, and in some cases same-day. After a medical professional collects the sample, patient results are reviewed and a Wheel clinician provides ongoing remote care for those testing positive for COVID-19, notifying the public health system of the positive result.
This week, a controlled roll-out of 5,000 test kits are available to patients in Texas; in the coming weeks 10,000 test kits will be available per week, with plans to rapidly scale this number up into 100,000 per week by the end of April nationwide as supplies are made available. At this time, the cost for the test is $135, which includes access to board-certified clinicians trained by Wheel in COVID-19 protocols and telehealth best practices. imaware™ is in the process of seeking reimbursement on behalf of patients to extend services to the greatest number of people possible.
The imaware test follows CDC protocols and is administered by a healthcare professional, potentially reducing the risk for false negatives. Self-collected COVID-19 swab tests are potentially at greater risk for inaccurate results, and not currently authorized by the FDA.
“Providing accurate medical guidance to people who are concerned about, or may have been exposed to, COVID-19 will determine the way this pandemic plays out in our country -- and collaboration is essential to mobilizing toward this common goal rapidly and efficiently,” said Rafid Fadul, MD, chief medical officer of Wheel.
Patients based in Texas can begin their at-home health assessment at www.imaware.health.
To learn more about Wheel, visit www.wheel.com.
Wheel is a digital health company building the infrastructure required for virtual care to realize its full potential. For healthcare companies offering telehealth services, Wheel provides access to a tech-enabled, nationwide network of clinicians specially trained in Webside Manner™, in order to help these companies scale rapidly and compliantly. For clinicians, Wheel creates a simpler connection to more virtual opportunities, bringing the future of work to healthcare. By enabling the digital health industry to thrive, Wheel is improving patient access to quality care. To learn more about Wheel, visit www.wheel.com.
imaware™ is a Houston, Texas based digital health platform, offering advanced and precise at-home testing that empowers individuals with remote screening and monitoring of life-altering conditions such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. imaware™ is uniquely positioned to serve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering in-home testing for COVID-19 by partnering with a network of local and national healthcare organizations in accordance with CDC protocols.
Rachel Forsyth, Finn Partners