NEW YORK – The US National Institutes of Health announced on Thursday that it has launched a program to enable telehealth prescribing of antivirals after at-home COVID-19 testing.
Kicking off later this month in Berks County, Pennsylvania, a pilot of the Home Test to Treat program will include up to 8,000 eligible residents who will be provided free COVID-19 health services. These include COVID-19 at-home rapid antigen tests, telehealth sessions, and at-home treatments. It will also make antiviral treatment available for eligible individuals who receive a positive test result, and does not preclude a patient from obtaining other types of test results on their own.
In a statement, NIH said that the pilot will enable data collection on best practices in order to implement the program on a larger scale. Home Test to Treat aims to offer services to approximately 100,000 people across the US in the coming year through collaborations with local health departments.
The Home Test to Treat program was announced by the White House in September.
The program is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Tech program in collaboration with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
"At-home testing for COVID-19 is now widely available in the United States, as are antiviral treatments, and this program combines easy home access to both," said Bruce Tromberg, director of NIBIB and leader of RADx-Tech. "The Home Test to Treat program allows those who are sick an alternative to venturing out for testing or treatment, potentially reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community."
Telehealth services provider eMed will implement the Home Test to Treat program under a contract award by NIBIB contractor, VentureWell. NIBIB also has issued a contract with UMass Chan Medical School, whose researchers, in collaboration with eMed, will analyze data collected from each participating community, including the impacts of a home-based process and clinical outcomes from treatments.
On Thursday, Lucira Health and Sesame announced their own COVID-19 test to treat program.