New Screening & Referral Tool to Bring Effective Therapeutic to COVID-19 Patients
While the distribution of COVID-19 rightly draws much attention and headlines, treatment of COVID-19 patients has quietly seen a breakthrough as well.
Since November of 2020, the monoclonal antibody (mAB) infusion therapy program in South Carolina has been providing a one dose outpatient infusion therapy that has been proven to reduce the severity of illness and avoid hospitalization in high-risk COVID positive patients. More than 6,000 patients have received the treatment to date, resulting in at least 770 COVID-related hospital admissions and in avoidance of more than 75 deaths.
“This one dose infusion of mABs is still the only approved outpatient therapy for patients suffering with symptomatic COVID,” points out Dr. Rick Foster, the physician lead for the mAB therapeutic program at DHEC. “We are extremely encouraged by both the effectiveness and safety of this treatment to date and are committed to ensuring that all eligible high-risk patients can have timely, local access to this outpatient infusion.”
Because the antibody treatments have been so successful both at reducing the severity of illness for COVID patients but also in preventing hospital admissions, there has been a concerted effort to expand both the number of treatment locations and the number of patients that could be treated daily at the 35 existing sites currently in operation.
To support those efforts, DHEC and SCHA have partnered with Health Sciences of South Carolina (HSSC) to create a mobile, web-based screening and referral tool for providers. The tool makes it easy for providers to know which patients meet clinical eligibility for antibody treatment. When a patient does meet criteria and also provides a list of active treatment sites within a geographic radius and the associated referral process for each site. A provider can select a referral site most convenient to the patient and have the referral sent directly to the infusion center.
Important too is that this tool can be freely accessed by any referring provider via any web-accessible device. Urgent care centers, testing locations, FQHCs, independent physician practices, hospital-affiliated practices, and more will now have full access to this tool.
“This tool streamlines the screening and referral process while ensuring only those patients who meet clinical eligibility criteria are referred for treatment,” explains Dr. Foster. “This is one of the most effective ways to support expanded access to and enhanced capacity of monoclonal therapies.”
Providers can now access the tool here. HSSC and DHEC are still collecting feedback and updating the tool daily. As providers use the tool, provide any feedback or recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org or can contact Dr. Foster directly at email@example.com.