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Duo Healthcare: the innovation delivering affordable healthcare made easier

It takes two for a healthy lifestyle, and Duo Healthcare is WellSpan’s newest innovation for affordable healthcare made easier.

Launched in 2019 as WellSpan Online Primary Care, the program was developed and tested with WellSpan team members. It delivered an innovative primary care alternative for digital-first consumers. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, WellSpan patients turned to technology for their care with more than 545,000 digital visits provided online last year.

WellSpan team member satisfaction combined with increasing digital visits during the pandemic accelerated the next phase of affordable, convenient care. Duo Healthcare has evolved to more than just online primary care – it creates connections for members and their care teams by encouraging personal engagement with their health.

A survey from the National Institutes of Health reported more than one-third of Americans self-diagnose on the internet when they encounter a health problem. Approximately one in four adults in the U.S. report they do not have a primary care professional who provides most of their care when they are sick or have a health concern, according to a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

With a goal of finding a better way, Duo was developed to meet changing needs and preferences while providing an affordable alternative to online care. Duo provides access to a primary care provider anytime; who is available wherever patients are, including work, the park or even vacation; who monitors members’ chronic conditions over time; and who tracks conditions through connected device monitoring, such as scales and blood pressure monitors, and intervene if something unusual is taking place.

Duo offers an always-available option for people to engage in getting and staying healthy while being supported by a dedicated care team. For example, members share home blood pressure readings a few times per month with the Duo care team. Because the care team is reviewing more frequently, rising blood pressure or abnormalities can be quickly addressed. Often times, starting a new medication and normalizing blood pressure can occur over a span of just weeks rather than months, which is typical in traditional primary care. Other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, can be managed through the convenience of connection and frequent contact to provide more effective management in shorter time frames.

Unlike other online healthcare options, Duo is powered by WellSpan physicians who can see patients and refer locally, when needed. Dr. Brian Pollak, medical director of WellSpan Innovations, internal medicine physician, and Dr. Quincy Harberger, family medicine physician, are excited about the care they can provide through Duo.

“One founding principle is that your routine care is our responsibility,” Dr. Pollak said. “You do not need a visit to address health maintenance, routine labs or other testing. We review each patient’s chart every six months to see what testing is due. We review any recent specialist visits. Then, we send the patient a portal message with our assessment of their health and recommended next steps, like going to a WellSpan Pharmacy for an immunization.”

Whether it’s through MyWellSpan secure messages, phone calls or video visits, patients receive care that is simple, effective and convenient. It’s part of WellSpan’s vision to reimagine healthcare and deliver exceptional outcomes and experiences at an affordable price.

WellSpan president and CEO Roxanna Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N. is a Duo member and after a recent visit she said, “It’s so convenient and easy to use. I had an issue which just needed a quick look by my primary care physician. I scheduled a video visit and completed the entire process within 24 hours. The visit itself took less than five minutes and I never left the comfort of my own home.”

Local relationships, expert and affordable care

Duo is also available to employers looking for a more convenient and affordable healthcare option for employees. WellSpan recently partnered with Littlestown Area School District in Adams County to provide more than 300 teachers, administrators and support staff with the option to join Duo Healthcare and keep their care local.

The program is designed so they may seek expert and affordable medical care without having their schedules interrupted. For example, Duo providers can do a video visit with a member over lunch or receive an e-visit after putting the kids to bed.

“A year ago, we thought about how to put money where value is needed for our staff,” said Christopher Bigger, superintendent, Littlestown Area School District. “We wanted our staff to have a convenient way to access healthcare without the huge investment of an onsite visit. We are working hard to find ways to help our employees in any way we can.

Through Duo, WellSpan is offering Littlestown Area School District an innovative solution to reducing costs associated with employee health while increasing productivity for workers by reducing the need to travel to the doctor’s office for routine visits.

Sign up for Duo Healthcare

While still in the test phase, individuals can sign up for more information about Duo and be alerted when the program is available community-wide next year. Local employers interested can inquire about participating in the test phase today for an affordable solution for workplace healthcare.

Duo Healthcare is another example of how WellSpan is innovating and delivering affordable healthcare made easier for today’s busy lifestyle.

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