‘'Nothing Short of Life-Changing": How Virtual Care Helped One Woman Rebuild Her Life After Abuse
Nina Walker sat in her parked car, angry and exhausted. These emotions weren’t new to her. She had finally escaped an abusive marriage, but it hadn’t happened overnight.
“You can’t just leave someone,” she recalled. “It just doesn’t work, especially in a violent situation.”
She started by getting a new job. On days that began with hours-long arguments at home, she considered quitting. But how could she finance a divorce and a new life without an income? She kept going.
Next, she bought a car — a vital step toward reclaiming her independence. After that came the police reports and the officers who told her time and again that the months after leaving an abusive relationship were often the most dangerous. But she pushed on and got a divorce.
Rebuilding brought its own challenges, emotions, and pain. Sometimes they accumulated and became an unbearable burden. That’s how she felt now, sitting in her car: crushed. So she gripped her steering wheel and screamed for three minutes straight. She screamed until there was nothing left to throw at the world.
Then, in the silence, Walker remembered she wasn’t alone. She had her weekly virtual care appointment with her virtual care provider in a few days. The mental health check-ins always helped center her. She started therapy when she joined Centivo, her employer and health plan, and quickly took to the visits hosted on a virtual care platform built by Carium.
Knowing help was around the corner — or a click away if everything got worse — Walker released the steering wheel and let go of the pain.
“Every day I come to work, every time I use the app, every time I meet with my provider, it feels like I’m making progress and doing the right thing,” Walker said about her journey.
A Patient-Centered Partnership Forms
Walker is one of the tens of thousands of Americans who trust Centivo for high-quality, affordable care.
Centivo believes everyone deserves an exceptional healthcare experience founded on a strong relationship with a primary care partner. Its health plan helps self-funded employers and clinicians work together to offer effective care and reduce costs — no need to pick and choose. Employees enjoy comprehensive support through a high-value provider network, exceptional administrative service, and intuitive technology.
To complement its offering, Centivo designed a virtual care platform with more capabilities than standard patient portals, explained Meghan Davidson, the organization’s virtual primary care practice and product manager. Convenient access was essential to meeting the diverse needs of members, who include everyone from grocery store cashiers to flight crews.
Davidson joined the team in 2021 and chose Carium to build the virtual care platform. She knew the partnership was destined for success from the first meeting. “As we were talking, I knew this tool solved many of the challenges I needed to solve,” she said.
Together, they created a platform that lives and breathes patient engagement. Care is just a tap away for patients, and easy-to-use features empower them to take control of their health. Healthcare teams can use the technology to send surveys, conduct asynchronous communication, and run video visits that members like Walker look forward to. With seamless workflows that sit on top of Centivo’s electronic health record system, providers can focus on offering the best possible care. The platform even supports tailored programs for chronic care management.
“All of these different processes, workflows, and procedures are to ensure that the patient is at the center of the care,” Davidson said. “Carium helps us enable that with the reassurance that we are tracking everything from a data standpoint.”
Streamlining Access to Care
Barriers to care are rife in the U.S.
Some areas are primary care deserts, where it can take months to get a doctor’s appointment. When people reserve a slot, they may not have childcare, transportation, or time off work. And even when scheduling aligns, financial barriers remain.
Centivo designed its offering to reduce the cost and access constraints that keep patients from the care they need.
In Walker’s case, compliance was the main stumbling block. Healthcare’s technological shortcomings only made it harder to stick to her journey.
“Even if you go to a doctor in person, they still have their own app. They have their own chart system, which is another app. And then you have the email confirmation to deal with,” she said. “Nobody wants to go through that many electronic channels to get one thing done. You’re putting in an hour of work for a 30-minute visit.”
Centivo and Carium provided a completely different experience. Walker could contact her healthcare team with the tap of a button, billing was automatic, and regular reminders sent through the app made it easy to attend her weekly check-ins.
And there was her provider.
After several bad experiences with providers, Walker was relieved to find someone she could trust. She and her provider both valued holistic care that promoted lifestyle changes alongside medication. During their 30-minute sessions, Walker practiced techniques for tackling real-life scenarios because, in difficult times, even simple tasks like washing the car can feel unbearable.
Day by day, Walker made small but meaningful adjustments.
With each session, her provider learned more about Walker’s background, habits and needs, strengthening their relationship. And Walker found that consistency itself benefited her mental health and helped her commit to her goals.
The platform also simplified Walker’s access to other types of care — a welcome relief for someone who was reconstructing her life. She recently texted her doctor through the app. Two hours later, she had scheduled and attended a 10-minute appointment, discussed her symptoms with her doctor, and filled an antibiotics prescription.
“They’ve made it so streamlined,” she said. “There are no glitches, there are no delays, and the response time is literally within minutes.”
Care teams have also taken to the virtual care platform, Davidson explained. Data gathered through the app enables providers to personalize care and stay updated on patients’ progress. Clinicians use the platform to steer patients to in-network care, avoiding massive out-of-network costs. And when patients need to see a specialist or complete lab work, the app supports a concierge-like experience.
Early analysis of the program reveals fewer visits to urgent care and the emergency department, yielding better outcomes at lower costs. That helps explain the average 15 to 30% savings employers realize through Centivo.
Building Better Healthcare Services
Healthcare organizations face a never-ending roll of challenges and opportunities as services and customer expectations evolve. Keeping pace can be exhausting and expensive.
But Davidson found that whenever she presented Carium with a hurdle or idea, the team was ready to analyze the situation, brainstorm technological solutions, and plan a long-term roadmap. “How flexible and adaptable they have been has been incredibly valuable for us,” Davidson said.
They recently set out to enhance and track patient referrals. That was essential to ensure people could receive the care they need when they need it. Carium’s specialized workflow tracks patient journeys, captures data, and displays a high-level overview on a user-friendly dashboard.
“That’s been a really concrete improvement that Carium helped us deliver,” Davidson said. “And we continue to evolve as we recognize different needs.”
Progress Every Day
As Walker sought to improve her mental health, getting out of bed each morning was still difficult. Even on good days, she wondered when everything would fall apart. She found herself questioning why she, of all people, received so much support from her colleagues and healthcare team.
But no matter how she felt — happy, sad, or indifferent — she always logged her mood on the virtual care platform. It was easy. All she had to do was open it up and choose between one of five faces representing a range of emotions, and then the app plotted a graph of her overall journey.
Just like Walker’s other healthy habits, the benefit of tracking her mood grew over time. Now, on bad days, she opens the graph to see how far she has come. Yes, there were still some red dots at the bottom. But with each passing day, the lows were losing out to the good-mood blue dots at the top. The graph, like her life, was trending upward.
“It has been nothing short of life-changing for me,” Walker said of her decision to download the app and commit to her care journey. “Something horrible turned into something amazing.”
Nina Walker's inspiring journey demonstrates the profound impact of relationships and technology in healthcare. Are you ready to take the first step toward revolutionizing healthcare for your patients, members or employees? Join Centivo and other visionary organizations leading the charge with Carium.