In addition to declining revenue and a strapped labor market, today’s health systems are facing another obstacle—a rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, particularly in pediatric patients. Coupled with the flu and Covid-19, cases of RSV are driving hospitalization rates to high levels, with The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics saying hospitals are at their breaking point.
The Biden administration has been called on by these organizations to declare a state of emergency and provide hospitals with added flexibility to meet the surge. “More than three-fourths of pediatric hospital beds are occupied across the U.S., according to data from the Health and Human Services Department,” read a recent CBS article. “Seventeen states are reporting that more than 80 percent of beds are full, according to the data. Children’s hospitals in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Utah are almost completely at capacity.”
Most notably, infants six months and younger are getting hospitalized with RSV at seven times the rate observed before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2018, according to CDC data.
Bright.md’s role in addressing RSV
At Bright.md, we understand the importance of reacting quickly and efficiently to health trends leaving systems stressed and strapped–especially when we know asynchronous telehealth is poised to open access to care while addressing capacity issues at overwhelmed, in-person urgent care and emergency departments. That’s why we’ve deployed a thorough plan to help our health system partners address the rise in RSV cases.
After initially hearing of the rise in RSV, Bright.md’s medical director and clinical content team conducted a thorough review of our solution’s pediatric upper respiratory infection interview, as well as our upper respiratory infection module for adults 18 years and older, to find additional opportunities where we can help systems handle RSV cases. Although diagnosis for RSV can’t be done asynchronously because of nasal swab and test requirements, we added a diagnosis for “Acute Bronchiolitis” to the Bright.md platform; since RSV is the most common cause of that condition, clinicians can choose to diagnose based on clinical pictures collected through an asynchronous interview rather than a lab test.
Bright.md’s evidence-based clinical content has also always screened for factors that could put a patient at increased risk of severe disease, such as secondhand smoke, daycare attendance, heart condition, and chronic lung disease. Depending on how patients respond to these questions, along with their medical history and responses to other questions about their symptoms, they may be escalated out of their asynchronous interview and directed to a different venue of care that will be more appropriate for them, like an in-person or video visit.
Additionally, the Bright.md solution has always triaged and escalated patients who have severe symptoms that indicate need for emergency care, including:
- Severe cough that causes respiratory distress
- Appears cyanotic after cough
- Appears cyanotic at rest
- Unable to perform normal daily activities
- Altered mental status
- Increased effort with breathing
- Severe fatigue
- Signs and/or symptoms of dehydration
- Severe respiratory distress (retractions, use of accessory muscles, or grunting)
- Difficulty with eating or drinking due to respiratory effort/distress
By using Bright.md to triage RSV cases, health systems can keep moderate cases out of their urgent care clinics to decrease overwhelm and wait-times in these venues, and avoid disease spread–while, at the same time, navigating severe cases to the ER when it’s needed most.
Pediatric care through asynchronous telehealth
Beyond RSV, Bright.md covers common conditions typically addressed in an urgent care or primary care setting for children ages six months through 17. Our interviews are specifically tailored toward childens’ unique needs and anatomy, while also helping parents answer the question—does my child need to see a doctor? We hear from our patient users that having access to on-demand, online care for children that is reviewed by a provider, but can be completed on their own time and without having to travel, is a life-saver.
And we know many of the types of conditions that parents typically need to go to an in-person urgent care clinic for–or try to call their pediatrician to get an immediate answer about–are ripe for asynchronous treatment. Bright.md includes more than 55 treatable pediatric diagnoses in our seven unique pediatric interviews for rash, acne, burn, ear concerns, eye concerns, upper respiratory infection, and head lice.
“This service is tremendous. We knew what our son had and couldn’t be seen for days by his doctor. We would have had to wait, and possibly get exposed to other illnesses, in an urgent care facility or driven 45 minutes to get an urgent care appointment.” – Bright.md parent user
Learn more about how Bright.md is helping address capacity issues