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Bridging the Gap Between Public and Private Healthcare Delivery: COVID-19 Antiviral Treatment


The public health system faces many hurdles in delivering essential care at scale. Perhaps the largest and most challenging of those hurdles is the lack of cohesive programming across public health initiatives and private health systems. A prime example of this has been delivering COVID-19 antiviral treatments to large, diverse populations. Once the antiviral treatment and funding became available to states, we saw corresponding demand increase. However, there was not a process in place to easily deliver medication to those who needed it.

Antiviral access is just one of many examples where we have seen a need for change in the way healthcare is delivered. Oftentimes public health offices are directed funding for immediate needs in their communities but lack the technology and infrastructure to deliver quickly. This is the case with antivirals.

With that in mind, Color partnered with public health innovators such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Washington State to bridge the gap between public and private healthcare delivery of antiviral treatment, moving patients from intake to virtual consult to prescription in under 30 minutes. 

Obstacles to Antiviral Treatment Delivery 

While antiviral prescriptions have been largely available for months now, accessibility has been the biggest challenge to date in delivering COVID-19 treatment to those who need it most within the short window of efficacy, just 3-5 days from symptom onset. 

The current process places the full burden on the patient, leaving it up to them to take a test, find a provider with availability to see them, then locate a pharmacy with the antiviral treatment…all within 3 days. And this care path is even harder for those without a primary care provider or knowledge that treatment for COVID-19 exists. 

There are also major constraints on the clinical consult and pharmacy supply sides. Not all clinicians are able to prescribe COVID-19 antiviral treatment, and there is a general lack of education around and consistency for antiviral prescribing protocols. Additionally, private health professionals may not be equally equipped with the experience and knowledge to best serve diverse populations. To further complicate matters, not all pharmacies carry stock of antiviral prescriptions, especially those serving hard to reach populations. Because of these supply issues, patients may not be connected with treatment for up to two weeks, which puts them out of the window of efficacy.

Improving Access to Antivirals

Despite the above difficulties, public and private health partners have found a way to work together to deliver antiviral treatment using a streamlined test to telehealth to treat experience. Through this program, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 can have a phone or video consultation, and if eligible, have a prescription for an antiviral shipped to their door or preferred pharmacy for pickup. All of this through one transaction, consult to prescription, within 30 minutes.

This delivery model removes significant barriers of access, connecting patients with knowledgeable clinicians and antiviral treatment prescriptions fast enough to be effective, no matter their location. Furthermore, this kind of partnership helps states deliver care to residents easily, filling gaps around technology and infrastructure. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of Washington, and the District of Columbia are just a few examples of states partnering with Color to deliver treatment using this model; and residents are using it. In just over four months, Color has processed over 24,000 consultation requests, with over 13,000 prescriptions for Paxlovid written and almost 700 prescriptions delivered to patients’ preferred addresses. 

Color closes the gap between public and private healthcare delivery, enabling public health departments to scale services to previously hard to reach populations.

If you’re interested in partnering with Color to deliver COVID-19 antiviral treatment to your communities, you can reach out to our team here

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