Closing the “Care Gap” with Virtual First Primary Care

Ian Toner
June 2, 2021
4 mins

At Carbon Health, we strongly believe in the importance of routine preventive care and primary care for everyone. Routine checkups — and having a good relationship with a primary care provider — help ensure good long-term health and significantly reduce healthcare costs. It has been estimated that every $1 spent on primary care saves $13 in overall healthcare spending, and another study found that adults who have a relationship with a primary care provider have a 19 percent lower risk of premature death than those who see only specialists for care.  

This is why we work not only to educate people about the importance of getting preventive and primary care, but also to make that care more accessible and more convenient. 

And a key way we do this is through Carbon Health virtual care — and our “virtual first primary care” philosophy.

What Is Virtual First Primary Care?

Carbon Health patients who prefer to visit a primary care provider in a clinic setting can always do so. But many of our patients like the convenience of virtual visits for routine matters that don’t require a physical examination.

And “virtual first” does not (and should not) mean “virtual only.” Rather, it’s a fusion of virtual care and our unique pop-up clinics that, together, create a complete and integrated healthcare experience. 

Pop-up clinics are smaller-scale, easy-to-access locations that complement virtual primary care. A patient can choose to receive the majority of their care virtually but still have this convenient way to handle the physical aspects of care (for instance, in-person diagnosis and vaccinations). And even during your in-person appointment at a pop-up clinic, while a nurse or lab technician is helping you, you’ll have the option of speaking virtually to your primary care provider. 

Plus, Carbon Health’s proprietary electronic health record (EHR) technology means that no matter how you access care, all your medical information is up-to-date and available to all your providers — so they can function as a team and give you the best possible care. 

Getting Started with Virtual First Primary Care 

You can use the Carbon Health app or website to select a primary care provider who fits your needs. Building a relationship with a provider is key to establishing a care plan, which will likely include preventive care such as physicals and screenings to keep you in good health. If you have a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes, your care plan will ensure that your condition is properly managed for optimal well-being and quality of life. 

With virtual first primary care, you get not only customized care and a one-on-one relationship with your doctor, but also access to a healthcare team at Carbon Health primary care, urgent care, and pop-up clinics — for immediate concerns (such as a sore throat or a urinary tract infection), as well as for urgent needs (such as a sprained ankle). 

Visiting a Pop-Up Clinic

Pop-up clinics are designed to deliver services such as diagnostic tests, blood and specimen collection for labs, and some vaccine and medication administration. You can book an appointment directly with a pop-up clinic, or your primary care team can set up an appointment for you. 

Every pop-up clinic is staffed by a nurse who acts as a member of your extended care team. They are able to share findings and results of diagnostic tests with your primary provider, via real-time video and data. They can also support ongoing care programs with in-person patient education and coaching.

With Carbon Health’s virtual first primary care, your primary care provider is available to you wherever you go — even if you move. Plus, you can get in-person access to vital services anywhere we have a pop-up clinic. It’s just one of the ways that we’re pursuing our mission to make high-quality healthcare accessible to everyone. 

Ian Toner

Ian Toner leads Carbon Health’s Program Development team, which focuses on the design and implementation of new care programs and services for our patients. Before joining Carbon Health, Toner worked in a variety of healthcare product development, operations, and strategy roles at CVS Health. He most recently served as Executive Director of B2B Strategy for Aetna’s payer-provider joint ventures.