May Is Mental Health Month. Here’s What We’re Doing to Support Mental Healthcare during COVID-19.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month. With the current climate exacerbating feelings of isolation and loneliness, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness about mental illnesses—and break down the stigma surrounding them. Here’s what we’re doing to make mental healthcare more accessible, convenient, and judgment-free, both in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.

Remember back in February, when coronavirus was little more than a distant anxiety, quickly brushed aside? The days when COVID-19 was an excuse to make memes about toilet paper shortages and “working from home?”

Then, remember when things started to get real? When slowly but surely, the seriousness of the situation set in—and the anxiety got harder to laugh off and push aside?

Now, as the weeks (nay, months) of stay-at-home orders drag on, the drumbeat of stress and uncertainty grows ever-louder. Faced with so many unanswerable questions, many find themselves ruminating, feeling hopeless, and, ultimately, depressed. 

What you’re feeling is normal.

You’ve heard it a hundred times, but it bears repeating: it’s okay to not be okay right now. If you’re feeling down, know that you’re not alone. Whether it’s due to job loss, economic uncertainty, or general worries about health and safety, people across the country are experiencing historic levels of depression and anxiety.

According to recent polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Benenson Strategy Group, nearly half of Americans say the coronavirus has harmed their mental health. What’s more, calls and texts to crisis helplines are surging, reporting anywhere from a 40 to 1000 percent increase in volume. 

One thing is clear: The current crisis has brought to light the need for improved access to mental healthcare. 

How ZOOM+Care can help, now and in the future

We want to make mental healthcare accessible, easy-to-use, and stigma-free.

Under normal circumstances, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experience mental illness in a given year, according to research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of those 46.6 million, only 41% will seek help due to social stigma concerns and long wait times. Even fewer will get the treatment they need.

With COVID-19 pushing more people to seek care, our mission is more critical now than ever.

ZOOM+Care = a stigma-free zone 

One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic? The crisis has sparked concern for the wellbeing of our entire nation, helping to normalize conversations around mental health. As more people speak openly about their struggles with anxiety and depression, stigma starts to erode.

That said, there’s still a long way to go. Stigma is deeply rooted in our society, and many mistakenly believe that mental health conditions are a sign of personal weakness, or that people should be able to control them without help.

ZOOM+Care’s philosophy is that mental illness is no different than any other medical illness. There’s no shame in seeking counsel, guidance, and support. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip—Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer, as well as a board-certified psychiatrist—says, “Just like you’d go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment.”

Improving access to care

Beyond eliminating stigma, ZOOM+Care strives to make mental healthcare ultra-accessible.

We reduce long wait times and irritating loopholes by offering on-demand visits without a referral. We also give you choices for how you want to see a doctor: you can start your mental health journey in person, or virtually through VideoCare™. You can even use ChatCare™ to refill or manage your medications in between visits. 

What’s more, ZOOM+Care supports a whole-person approach to care.

“Getting mental healthcare shouldn’t be difficult, especially right now,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “We’ve built extensive bridges between our everyday healthcare services and our mental healthcare services. We have a ‘no wrong door approach’—you can schedule directly with our mental health team, or you can start your journey through our daily care offering. It’s all private, and it’s all in your control.” 

Empowering patients towards total health

Lastly, we believe in empowering patients with knowledge and giving them the tools they need to take control of their mental health. 

“The goal of our Mental Health Services is to provide great guidance and advice so that patients can plug back into their lives. We want to give them the tools to feel better on their own,” says Dr. Vanderlip.

“But whenever they feel stuck, they can reach out. We’re all about empowering people to make decisions about their mental health. In many ways, we’re just copilots—the patient is the one in control.” 

To borrow the words of Dr. Vanderlip, we could all use a copilot right now. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety and depression, we’re here to help. Schedule a visit today. Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Stephen Clarkson, Senior Software Engineer

It might sound clichéd, but our employees truly are the heart and soul of ZOOM+Care. They’re a gritty bunch, comprised of adventurers, pet lovers, foodies,  fashionistas, fantasy football fanatics, and everything in between. Each one has an interesting story— and #TogetherWeZoom is where we tell them.  Welcome to our monthly employee spotlight, designed to celebrate the people behind the scenes, working hard to shape the future of healthcare. 

September’s #TogetherWeZoom is a special two-parter, focusing on our amazing IT & Software Development Teams. First up is Stephen Clarkson: a Senior Software Engineer who’s been with ZOOM+Care for over two years.  Keep reading to learn about his proudest moment at Zoom, what inspires him about his work, and what his favorite company perks and benefits are:

What inspires you most about working at ZOOM+Care?

Believing in the positive social impact of my work has been my biggest motivator. ZOOM+Care is fundamentally changing healthcare and has the vision and leadership to continue doing so. It is one of the most innovative disruptors in the market and it’s inspiring to work in a healthcare company that strives to provide on-demand healthcare at half the cost, while still removing the overhead of typical healthcare solutions. As a software engineer, it’s empowering to know that ZOOM+Care considers itself a technology company as well as a healthcare company and that my work has a direct positive impact on the community.

What is your favorite Zoom perk or benefit?

This year our engineering team had full-access passes to the Open Source Software Convention (OSCON 2019). It was a great experience because it gave me insight into where an important part of the software community is moving, and which technologies could be applied to the problems I’m working on right now.

What has been your favorite project so far?

As a software engineer in a healthcare company, we frequently have the opportunity to take deep dives into different aspects of healthcare. From imaging and lab information systems, to patient scheduling applications and provider-patient chat systems, every project I’ve been on has presented new challenges and exciting solutions.

What is your proudest moment at ZOOM+Care?

Software engineers (mostly) like seeing their software being used. For me, it’s exciting to see healthcare professionals use things on a daily basis that I have worked on directly, especially when it relates primarily with people receiving better healthcare.

What have you learned while working here?

A positive work culture improves a team’s productivity in the long run more than anything else. One part of a positive work culture in software engineering is a collective effort to do things the right way, even when it’s easier to do things quickly. Every good decision is additive and momentum builds faster than teams might expect.

Enough work questions! Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

I took a break from college and lived in El Salvador for a few years as a service volunteer.

Are you a tech professional interested in bringing innovative technology to healthcare? Our IT & Software Development Teams are hiring!

Free Nights: Part of Our Commitment to Affordable, Accessible Care

A banner announcing that ZOOM+Care Free Nights are back

Imagine living in constant fear of getting sick. In fear of catching a cold, because it could lead to pneumonia—and pneumonia could land you in the hospital. And what if a hospital visit cost you the equivalent of several months’ rent, or more?

For those without access to insurance, this is the reality.

At ZOOM+Care, we believe that healthcare should be affordable, complete, and accessible to all—but we acknowledge there’s still a long way to go. Obstacles, such as cost and lack of insurance, prevent many from getting the basic medical care they deserve. That’s why, on July 10th, we’re bringing ZOOM+Care Free Nights back. Starting at our MLK clinic, we’ll offer complimentary visits the second Wednesday of every month, from 6-9 PM.

Free Nights are our way of giving back—they’re part of our commitment to making healthcare affordable and radically accessible. Through them, we support care for uninsured members of our community, and for those who do not otherwise have access to healthcare services.

We know you probably have some questions about how our Free Nights work, so we sat down with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vanderlip to give you some answers. Discover more below.

Hey Dr. Vanderlip! July 10th is the big comeback of ZOOM+Care Free Nights, and you’ve played a huge role in getting them back up and running. Can you tell us why Free Nights are so important to you personally, and to ZOOM+Care as a whole?

ZOOM+Care’s mission is to bring better access to high-quality healthcare services to everyone. But healthcare is expensive, and we have to operate a sustainable business. For some people, the cost of our services is prohibitively expensive. We care about everyone in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to showcase that commitment. Personally, I’m very proud of the system we have and the value of care we provide—this allows us to extend it to even more folks.

How do Free Nights fit into the overall mission of ZOOM+Care?

We want to make access to healthcare simple and delightful for everyone. This is our chance to advance that mission to those who don’t have health insurance, or those temporarily caught in a transition between insurance.

I’ve heard you mention that Free Nights are not a “cheaper, lighter version of ZOOM”— they’re essentially the full ZOOM+Care experience. Can you tell us a little more about that?

That’s right! The experience is essentially the same as any other ZOOM+Care clinic visit, with the absence of online scheduling. Each person is set up with a ZOOM+Care account if they’re new to the system, given a time slot, and seen by one of our ZOOM+Care providers in the exact same way as if they were scheduling a regular ZOOM+Care visit. We focus on one problem at a time and try to knock it out of the park. Most of what we would do is available for free, including our on-site medications and bedside tests. If we order lab tests that take some time to return, we communicate as typical through a person’s ZOOM+Care account and help to arrange appropriate follow up within ZOOM+Care or community partners, exactly the same way we would do it in a typical ZOOM+Care visit.

This is important to note—we are bringing virtually the same exact experience to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

 How does ZOOM+Care staff Free Nights? Do providers volunteer their time, or…?

We care about our providers and value their time— they are reimbursed for their time in our free night the same as if they were seeing patients during the day. On occasion, we may provide some extra incentives to sweeten the pot and thank them for taking additional time away from their personal lives to help us meet the needs of our broader community. I’m talking about pizza. [laughs]

Is there anything we can’t treat on ZOOM+Care Free Nights?

We don’t diagnose or treat STDs. We also don’t provide x-rays. Also, in general, if we don’t do it at regular ZOOM+Care, we can’t do it at free nights. For instance, ZOOM+Care doesn’t prescribe narcotics (opioid pain medications).

Are there any eligibility requirements for Free Nights, or are they open to everyone?

You have to have a valid photo ID to set up your ZOOM+Care account. It also helps if you have an email address so we can connect with you later regarding follow up or lab results.

What is the primary goal of ZOOM+Care Free Nights? Do you see its mission expanding in the future?

The goal is to expand our services to more folks in the community. I see this expanding as far as we can sustain it. I’m thankful that I work with an amazing team who shares my passion for getting our model of care to everyone—our internal excitement to reboot Free Night is unparalleled! I’m confident it will remain a stable fixture of our service offerings for some time.

Want to learn more about what a free visit at Zoom entails? Check out our Free Night FAQs.

How We Zoom: Co-Founder & CEO Dave Sanders at TEDx Portland 2017

On April 15th, ZOOM+Care Co-Founder and CEO Dave Sanders took the stage at TEDx Portland to reveal the 3-part formula that has already begun to revolutionize healthcare. Watch the crowd-rallying talk or read the full transcript below.

Continue reading “How We Zoom: Co-Founder & CEO Dave Sanders at TEDx Portland 2017”