VSee + MAVEN Project Volunteer Physicians for the Underserved

VSee is excited to announce it’s partnership with The MAVEN Project to help bridge healthcare disparities in underserved communities. MAVEN is a national network of volunteer doctors that’s filling the resource gaps faced by federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), free clinics, and other “safety net” clinics via telehealth technology.

Using VSee’s telehealth platform (the same video technology used by astronauts on the International Space Station), MAVEN is able to provide underserved clinics with access to highly skilled and experienced physicians when they need it, where they need it, regardless of geographical location.

The Role of Telehealth In Lowering Health Disparities

With the help of VSee’s telehealth technology, MAVEN is able scale its programs for reducing health access issues in underserved communities. Currently they provide a range of services to “safety net clinics” whether its specialist consults, clinical education, or mentorship from providers that have struggled through the same issues.

VSee provides a simple easy-to-use tool that older or less tech-savvy physicians can learn in the time of their coffee break. It also provides a secure cloud platform that is tailored to MAVEN’s workflow. It streamlines their scheduling processes while making it easy to fit into the workflows of each of the different clinics they serve.

The MAVEN Project Alternative to AI

By tapping into the pool of retired and semi-retired physicians, MAVEN’s care support model is bringing back into our health system experienced doctors and specialists in a timely manner. While the compassionate AI doctor may one day be readily available to all patients, AI technology is still in its infancy. Meanwhile, patients and providers in rural and medically underserved communities need access to specialists now.

For example, one Primary Care Provider (PCP) after a single consult with a MAVEN Project urologist was able to remove three quarters of his patients from a long wait list to see a urologist. This learning opportunity changed this PCP’s care approach for a whole population of patients, not to mention reducing his patients’ anxiety and their cost of having to see a urologist.

CEO of The MAVEN Project, Lisa Bard Levine, MD, MBA, says, “The MAVEN Project’s volunteer physicians offer what no AI system or medical database can currently offer – human empathy and the art of medicine coupled with years of clinical practice experience.”

MAVEN currently serves clinics in 8 states and continues to expand.

A Call To Heal The Health Disparities Gap

One in 15 Americans are served by local community health “safety net” clinics. These safety net clinics are crucial to reducing the health disparities that exist in the US today.

A 2017 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shows that rural Americans are more likely to die from five leading causes (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke) than those in urban areas.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. says “there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans.” He adds, “To close this gap, we are working to better understand and address the health threats that put rural Americans at increased risk of early death.”

The CDC notes that “Residents of rural areas in the United States tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts. They have higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. Rural residents report less leisure-time physical activity and lower seatbelt use than their urban counterparts. They also have higher rates of poverty, less access to healthcare, and are less likely to have health insurance.”

Poverty Means Less Access and Worse Health Outcomes 

“To be poor in America means to be at significant risk of poor health in America,” says Denise Rodgers, MD, longtime health disparity fighter and 2018 recipient of the Lester Z. Lieberman Legacy Award for Humanism in Healthcare. It means reduced access to care in addition to poor health outcomes. It means significantly higher incidences of

*homicides and accidents,
*infant mortality,
*obesity, heart disease and stroke,
*cirrhosis,
*cancer, and
*diabetes.

However, complex medical care and specialty expertise in these community “safety net” clinics are limited due to socioeconomic reasons as well as geographic barriers.  Individuals with chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, asthma) often experience long delays seeing specialists until their conditions deteriorate, leading to emergency room visits and avoidable hospitalizations.

Provider Shortages and Burnout in Underserved Communities

Another problem is that working underserved community clinics is a tough calling that isn’t for most providers. These clinics tend to have more difficulty recruiting and retaining providers, especially when it comes to finding specialists willing to work with uninsured and underinsured patients.

Most of these clinics are served by Primary Care Providers, a care group with one of the highest physician burnout rates. According to the Medscape 2019 survey of 15,000 physicians, 48% of PCPs reported burnout–nearly half of all primary care providers. (The highest reported burnout group was urology at 54%.)

Stephen Hanson, PA-C, in a Physicians Practice article on working in underserved communities comments,”The sad reality is that the number of physicians practicing in rural and medically underserved areas has been declining for decades.”

While a growing cohort of nurses and PAs are helping to cover these physician gaps, the special challenges of working with underserved communities still makes it hard to find providers with the right heart, mind, and grit to take on and stay with the job.

Hanson adds,  “Practice in these areas is challenging from financial and quality of life perspectives. Many clinicians I know choose to work in metropolitan areas to find a ‘better life,’ more opportunities, and more professional support.”

Be A Part Of Health Care Change

VSee is excited to be a part of this ambitious project to improve access to care and is honored to be the platform chosen to scale this project across the United States and beyond!

If you are a physician, consider joining The MAVEN Project in making quality health care accessible to those most in need! Learn how you can volunteer with MAVEN here.

Full press release here

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