Care Kits Supplement Telehealth for Medicare Patients and More

57% of Americans with chronic conditions delayed healthcare and experienced a gap in care due to COVID-19, per a recent study. Aetna and other companies are shipping kits with specially curated products to offer self-care or supplement telehealth visits.

Telehealth and e-commerce both experienced major boosts during the pandemic, driven by the desire or need to stay at home and reduce exposure. While swapping a trip to the grocery store for an online order may feel easy, healthcare can require extra tools to accommodate the switch to remote options. Delayed healthcare services during the pandemic can be dangerous for those with chronic or serious conditions.

R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD) launched Care Kits to help healthcare companies adapt to industry changes and demonstrate their commitment to member and patient wellness. Kits are offered in a wide range of treatment areas including telemedicine prep, COVID-19, diabetes management, asthma, social isolation, and more.


RRD reported that in a recent Wellframe study, 57% of Americans with chronic conditions delayed healthcare services and experienced a gap in care due to the pandemic. Care kits can positively impact a patient’s impression of a provider according to the 2021 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study, with 59% of Medicare Advantage members noting that receiving COVID-19 or flu kits improved their opinion of an insurer.

Nicole Williams, vice president of go-to-market strategy, RRD Healthcare Solutions, explained in a recent release that “healthcare organizations find themselves in completely new territory, looking for new ways to deliver care to members from a distance. Healthcare payers and providers can now supplement in-person healthcare services and keep patients and members healthy by delivering tools and resources to their homes.”

Aetna, a CVS Health company, is shipping “Caring For You” kits with specially curated, over-the-counter items to all its Medicare Advantage members across the country. The idea is to support members with “simple self-care at home,” and kits include a thermometer, hand sanitizer and two Aetna-branded face masks, among other items.

“During this challenging time when many of our most vulnerable members are home, we wanted to provide them with some convenient items to help them stay healthy," said Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna Medicare. "We know that something as basic as an oral thermometer can make a big difference during telehealth visits. Sending these types of important items to our members at no cost was simply the right thing to do."

According to the latest report from Global Market Insights Inc., the market valuation of telemedicine will cross $186.7 billion by 2027.

RRD’s design process

The end-to-end solution encompasses kit ideation, design, item procurement, packaging, fulfillment and communications—both inside and outside of the box.


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Because each kit will hold different products depending on the treatment areas, RRD works closely with customers to determine the goal of the kit and design, then they break it down by products. Each customized kit contains products that are carefully sourced and evaluated for quality, meeting the needs of an individual patient or member.

  • One kit offered is the “Healthy Mom Kit,” which includes prenatal vitamins, nausea treatment, a pregnancy journal, belly butter, antacids, a belly band and compression socks.
  • The “COVID Care Kit” provides patients and members with facemasks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, facial tissue, a digital thermometer and a COVID-19 home test kit.

“We take into consideration the demographics of those receiving the kits, which helps us decide how elaborate or simple the packaging design needs to be,” says Williams. “We’ve also learned the importance of providing messaging with the care kits. We take advantage of the real estate on the box itself including under the inside lid to provide clear and concise information about the contents of the kits and any instructions for how to use them. In the medical space, for example, the end user is often over the age of 65; by including written instructions on the packaging itself, we ensure the products in the care kits are easily accessible and their intended use is understood.”

It is critical that the layout is simple while attractive, and that the kit and contents arrive safely. They ensure branding fits with the product families. Explains Williams, “Everything—from the product itself to after the packaging is disposed of—is taken into consideration during this initial phase.”

Materials

Material selection is a collaboration between RRD and the customer. One client might prefer the kit to act as its own shipping container, in which case the material for the kit would be corrugated to withstand shipping. Alternatively, if a client requests a high-end or lower-volume kit, RRD would build a corrugated shipper around a rigid box or folding carton.


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Logistics: assembly and distribution

RRD reports that development and execution of these kits involves a high level of supply chain complexity, including secure PHI (Protected Health Information) handling, component and commodity shortages, and logistical planning. Taking a kit from design and procurement to assembly and distribution requires the input of multiple teams early on.

“Our facilities are equipped with the systems to handle PHI and FDA-regulated items during the assembly and distribution process, which is important in the healthcare space where sensitive information and proper product handling need to be followed in accordance with HIPAA and cGMP guidelines,” notes Williams.

With existing supply chain services, Ken Gammon, vice president at RRD Healthcare Solutions, explains that they are able "to address healthcare industry challenges, such as compliance, cost and speed to market, with ease."

Navigating challenges

RRD developed care kits at the end of 2020 that required a very quick process. “Our flexibility and scale allowed us to curate nearly three million care kits on behalf of several clients. In situations where we produced and distributed diagnostic testing kits, we were up against complex elements, such as lab test turnaround. In these situations you have to weigh many factors, ultimately prioritizing timely delivery and turnaround time. We streamlined the process of returning specimens to a lab for testing and ensured we were creating an efficient process for our clients and the end user,” says Williams.

Beyond COVID-19

Telehealth has been gaining steam for years as many patients and consumers prefer to treat conditions in the comfort of home, provided they are comfortable with smartphones and other devices. As manufacturers and healthcare providers look to improve patient adherence, comfort, and satisfaction, at-home kits offer convenience to supplement telehealth appointments and home care.

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