If you feel sick and think you might have contracted the COVID-19 virus, one thing you shouldn't do is walk into a clinic without calling ahead. There's a chance of putting healthcare workers and other patients at risk, not to mention yourself if the visit is unnecessary and unplanned. An intermediary online step could help you decide if you need to be tested, though. Ro -- better known for its erectile dysfunction medication program Roman -- set up a system earlier this month that connects patients with physicians to decide on if and how they should be tested. A Ro representative says that the company hopes to make the service available to everyone in the US by the end of the week.
If you feel like you have signs or symptoms associated with the coronavirus, you can complete Ro's online assessment. If it seems like you may have contracted COVID-19, Ro will connect you with a US-licensed physician who will conduct a free video or phone evaluation and provide next steps. Ro does not provide a diagnosis or testing for COVID-19 -- it's leveraging its existing infrastructure to help people connect with physicians and find the proper guidance. The company uses telehealth systems for its men's and women's health services (Roman and Rory) as well as its smoking cessation program Zero.
Other companies like LiveHealth have been providing telehealth services for years, but it seems like most solutions aren't specific to COVID-19 -- patients simply set up a video call as normal. Alphabet's Verily has an online screening tool, and Nurx does have a COVID-19 testing solution in place, though it has yet to launch. Nurx will focus on patients who have had direct exposure to the virus or who are experiencing symptoms, and will send at-home testing kits to those who need them.
Ro's approach, meanwhile, seems to help fast-track people who think they may have contracted the coronavirus and quickly connect them with a healthcare provider. The company claims that using its system will help unburden the medical system and increase public safety. Hopefully, it will help more patients be able to stay at home in an effort to "flatten the curve."