The new hub is one of many tools and resources that the company plans to introduce to help provide quality health information that ultimately help people the tools they need to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Sharecare’s platform will use its health risk assessment tool RealAge, as well as its Community Well-Being Index, to provide contextual analysis and insight into how this public health crisis will impact individuals and their communities.
Furthermore, Sharecare plans to update its symptom-checking tool AskMD to help people link any potential symptoms to COVID-19 via questionnaire and seek treatment if warranted. The company also accelerated the launch of a telehealth platform that will allow hundreds of emergency room doctors to share their expertise with patients via telephone, as well as a free platform for doctors and health care providers that helps them connect with regular patients remotely.
“Sharecare has been built around the concept that it’s not about consumer-driven health care, it’s about community care,” Sharecare founder and CEO Jeff Arnold tells Hype. “When we talk about the broader vision, it’s really what the vision always was, which is, how does Sharecare enable community driven-care? How are we better together? And how do we demonstrate to people that we care?”
The Sharecare team realized they had to act quickly to create its hub and platform once global data from its Community Well-Being Index revealed the true scope of the pandemic.
“We service a lot of health plans, and employers and providers. We have so much data that we can kind of sit on top of the dance floor and look down to see [everything]. We were watching China and we’re obviously watching Italy and other countries, but we could also see it in our own data.”
“We just saw, like everybody else, that it was coming, but what was unique about Sharecare is that we were built for something like this,” Arnold continues. “We have the infrastructure, we have the tools, we have the clients, we have the users, so we said, ‘let’s put a lens on COVID-19 and have a rapid response.’”
Having the infrastructure in place, says Arnold, made it easy to launch the platform. “I already had a robust content management system and a robust app. I already had RealAge, AskMD, SharecareRx and Sharecare Windows, as well as call centers and disease management platforms. That was all in place. It just needed to be activated for this pandemic.”
The company’s COVID-19 hub is run by its editorial team of health journalists and verified by its array of medical experts, essentially turning that team into a dedicated news desk. The team shares and creates articles, videos and infographics detailing news, and tips and tools to keep people informed about symptoms, treatment and ways to prevent catching and spreading the virus.
“We thought we could be an unbiased source of truth,” says Arnold. “To do that is a pretty big commitment, because now you have to produce a lot of content on a daily basis.”
To that end, Sharecare also provides daily briefs listing the latest statistics, news and developments from the world’s most trusted news organizations, as well as links to up-to-the-minute information from Sharecare partners like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.
“The most important thing to me was, how do we look at COVID-19 from an editorial perspective through the lens of well-being? Are you disciplined and resilient? Are you financially resilient? Are you mentally resilient? And what’s your sense of purpose and community?” says Arnold.
“So, when any news broke, I wanted our editorial team to contextualize it around well-being. The reason that’s important is what we’re trying to build this resilience into. We’re trying to look at breaking news as it relates to well-being and talk about solutions, not just problems.”
In addition, the hub features real-time interactive maps documenting the global proliferation of cases, as well as analysis and insight designed to help people stave off COVID-19. To offer a contrast, it also displays relaxation and mindfulness content to promote calm and good mental health.
Registered users can also access Sharecare’s COVID-19 content directly from the Sharecare app, which provides them timely event cards and notifications alerting them to up-to-the-minute COVID-19 news. The app also makes it easier for people to connect to personalized information, evidence-based programs, benefits, community resources and health services they need to feel safe as the crisis continues.
Several of Sharecare’s existing platform capabilities can further support people facing challenges more specific to COVID-19, from risk mitigation and stress and anxiety to the impacts of social distancing and medication adherence. RealAge determines the actual age of a person’s body based on lifestyle factors and key health risk indicators, providing patients a clear view of their overall health.
The Sharecare app also gamifies healthy behaviors like hand-washing to help people change their lifestyles over time. In addition, SharecareRx provides users an exclusive digital pharmacy savings card to help uninsured and underinsured people save money on their prescription medications.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Arnold recognizes that its effects may change health care forever in myriad ways. “I believe that digital health is going to go from Blockbuster to Netflix in a matter of weeks, not decades — and Sharecare is a digital vaccine.” he says. “It’s happening right in front of our eyes. Our hope is that, beyond COVID-19, this is the platform that will build resilience for everyone, versus anything.”