When Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member Theo Allasia was hit by illness shortly after losing her health insurance, she turned to a new CPN service for help, even though she does not live near Tribal headquarters or health clinics in Oklahoma. From her home near Chicago, Illinois, she accessed a new telehealth platform provided by the Tribe, despite never having used CPN Health Services. The Bourassa family descendent had signed up for CPN Care, which provides access to virtual health care for free to Tribal members, their spouses and their dependents.
“It is a very quick process. Whenever you make an appointment, you will talk to a doctor in about five to 10 minutes. It’s free. … I think it’s just a really awesome tool to have, and you don’t have to rely on it to use it. So I very much suggest trying it out,” Allasia said.
CPN Care became available January 1 of this year and offers phone and videocall appointments on the spot to those with an account. It also provides access to some counseling and mental health services via phone and video as well as a platform for reduced medication and prescription costs.
CPN Vice-Chairman Linda Capps wanted to offer health services to Tribal members anywhere in the United States, and the need significantly increased during the coronavirus pandemic. She and a team of CPN staff worked with Call A Doctor Plus, an industry leader in telehealth, to develop and implement CPN Care.
“Over time, benefits have become more expensive and the cost for families to be able to provide these benefits, and Ms. Capps saw virtual care as a way to do this in a very cost-effective way, to deliver a program with really zero cost to the members. They can use it as often as they’d like,” said Call A Doctor Plus CEO Lou Daniels.
Now, Tribal members anywhere in the country can complete an easy two-step registration process using their Tribal ID and access a doctor via the AllyHealth smartphone application whenever they need care.
CPN Health Services became one of the first tribes Call A Doctor Plus worked with to develop a unique service for its members. They anticipate working with more Native nations in the future and enjoy helping them reach everyone in their communities, no matter where they live or travel.
“I think the fact that it’s really early in terms of the adoption across the board with other tribal nations, seeing CPN at the forefront of that, I think it really shows Ms. Capps’ innovation and her forward-thinking ability,” said Call A Doctor Plus Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Hoakman.
Time and cost
CPN Care makes doctors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the app. On their website, Call A Doctor Plus boasts a 10-minute average call back time and a 92 percent success rate at resolving patient issues on the first call.
“It does save people time and money. Quite a bit of time because you don’t have to lose time at work or time at home to get to a facility to be checked out. And money because it is a zero co-pay, unlimited, no deductible program, so nothing comes out of your pocket,” Daniels said.
Call A Doctor Plus lists sinus problems, ear infections, nasal congestion, allergies, pink eye and upper respiratory infections as some of the most common diagnosis via their services. CPN Care has the potential to reduce trips to urgent care or primary care providers for common ailments. Users also have the ability to access a physician as soon as symptoms appear, which Hoakman considers a huge advantage.
“Getting people that care right at the point of need is critical because that’s going to shorten the cycle of that illness. So if you don’t have to wait a couple of days to schedule an appointment, go sit in a doctor’s office, drive all the way down there, whatever that may be, all of the hurdles that you have to get that done, you can just pick up your phone and call a doctor,” he said.
If the doctor decides to provide a prescription during an appointment, they put that request into a pharmacy with the medication in stock near the patient. Allasia experienced a sudden onset of allergy symptoms one day and received medication in a snap after using CPN Care.
“The minute I got home from work, I just called the doctor. I was able to get back in the car and go pick up the prescription, and just go to bed. And it’s very nice to not have to take that extra trip to urgent care or make an appointment,” she said.
Quality of care
Hoakman said a high-quality user experience is their “sole focus.” Daniels agrees and notes that sometimes users question the expertise and skills of a doctor via telemedicine, which keeps them from utilizing those services. However, CPN Care puts patients in contact with qualified medical professionals.
“You are speaking to a real U.S.-based, U.S. board-certified doctor that has minimum 15 years’ experience that’s been vetted by MD Live over a three-month period before they can even come on the network,” Daniels said. “The doctor you speak to is going to be somebody that’s in the state that you’re in because typically only a doctor in your state can prescribe, and these doctors can prescribe.”
During a call, Allasia’s doctor directed her through a self-examination to diagnose a throat infection while asking her about what medications she had taken up to that point. In the end, Allasia felt the doctor on the other end really listened to her.
“She really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t anything else. And she was very slow and patient with it, just kind of like, ‘You take the two fingers, you press them up like below your jaw and up towards your ear’ kind of thing. … It felt like I was going to the doctor. It was just instead of somebody else touching me in my face, I was doing it myself,” Allasia said.
Hoakman has experience talking with and walking through calls with many of the doctors throughout his 11 years with the company.
“These physicians are so good at really sniffing out what that root issue is, even over the phone,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible. And the physicians love it because it actually allows them to be so much more efficient with what they do. There’s no waiting rooms. There’s no offices. They don’t have to take the overhead.”
He also noted the convenience of remote care while traveling. CPN Care offers the ability to access a doctor during a vacation, work trip or weekend out of town since it requests the user’s current location during the onboarding process.
CPN Care also offers mental health services and counseling sessions as another aspect to the app and a holistic approach to wellness.
“There’s a mental health component to this,” Daniels said. “If you are having stressed out anxiety … or you’re having marital issues, or there’s somebody in the family with substance abuse issues, you have the ability to talk to a licensed clinical professional who can help you through that need and can direct you to further help depending on what you may need.”
CPN tribal member Kathryn Ann Olsen lives in Utah and had never utilized CPN’s Behavioral Health services. The Moore family descendant heard about CPN Care at the time she was searching for a new therapist. She signed up, and it gave her the chance to switch providers at an affordable rate.
“This time, I went in with very specific needs and very specific questions, and they found someone who has 19 years of experience working with people with my particular struggle. … I was really glad to have Jessica be the person I was assigned to, and she’s been great,” Olsen said.
She found the process easy and appreciated the additional, less formal check ins with her therapist that the service provides. Her experience with online therapy has been much better through CPN Care than in the past, and Olsen encourages others to find out more information.
“Just give it a shot. Take a look at what’s available and see if there’s anything that you may be missing out on just because you don’t know it’s there for you,” she said.
CPNHS and Call A Doctor Plus encourage CPN members to sign up as soon as possible. It takes up to 48 hours to process a new account request.
“Healthier people are going to be happier people, and that’s our goal,” Daniels said.
Find more information about CPN Care as well as instructions on how to apply at cpn.news/CPNCare.