NIH Launches Pilot COVID-19 Telehealth Program: Home Test to Treat

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Berks county, Pennsylvania is the first community in Pennsylvania to form partnerships with local health departments.

In collaboration with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ASPR), the National Institutes of Health has launched the Home Test to Treat Program, an entirely virtual intervention in community health that will provide COVID-19 services, including at-home rapid testing, telehealth sessions and at-home treatment, for free, within selected communities. The White House announced the program in September 2022. It will provide antiviral treatments to eligible individuals with a positive test. This could prevent serious illness, hospitalization or death.

The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Tech program, led by Bruce Tromberg Ph.D. of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health, enables easy access to COVID-19 testing and antiviral treatment. The Home Test for program offers a convenient alternative to going to a clinic or hospital to get tested or treated. This could reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In Berks County in Pennsylvania, officials from the locality and the state will pilot the Test at Home to Treat Program later this month. The program is expected to attract up to 8,000 residents who are eligible.

The program organizers will collect information from participants in order to identify the best practices, and to make improvements to the Test at Home to Treat that can be implemented on a large scale. The selection of additional communities will be based on their level of need, the availability of healthcare, the expected COVID-19 infections rates and socio-economic aspects. Home test to treat hopes to reach approximately 100,000 Americans in the next year through collaborations with local departments of health.

Telehealth provider eMed is implementing the Test at Home to Treat Program. VentureWell, a NIBIB contractor awarded the contract for their services. eMed, which has administered millions of verified home telehealth sessions throughout the pandemic, will host the Home Test to Treat user-friendly website where participants can sign-up for the program and report symptoms. They will also receive telehealth treatment and antiviral delivery and coordinate telehealth enabled test kits.

NIBIB has also issued a contract to UMass Chan Medical School. Their researchers, working with eMed in collaboration, will analyze the data collected by each community participant, including the impact of a home-based testing and treatment process, attitudes towards the Home Test to Treat Program, and the clinical outcomes.

HHS has been leading a COVID-19 Test to Treat national initiative through ASPR since March 2022. This initiative includes thousands of treatment points across the country. The CDC’s Increasing Community Access to Testing program (ICATT), which is composed of federally-funded health centers, long term care facilities and community-based locations, is one example. The ICATT can test participants in the Test at Home to Treat Program. Test to Treat has evolved to include mobile and telehealth models which reduce barriers to entry for those at highest risk. NIH’s Home Test to Treat program will provide an additional path to quickly access lifesaving COVID-19 treatments in vulnerable communities.

Home Test To Treat promotes equitable solutions, and helps identify best practices which may save lives during this pandemic and in future ones. The research team will implement improvements in each community that will allow us to better respond to local, state and federal needs.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has funded the development of Home Test To Treat via the RADx Tech Program.

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