Telehealth Company Ro to Offer In-home COVID-19 Vaccinations in New York State

By Rebecca Spalding

March 04, 2021

(Reuters) - Telehealth company Ro said on Wednesday it was partnering with New York state's department of health to vaccinate people who can't leave their homes against COVID-19.

Some elderly, disabled, or otherwise homebound people may face difficulty getting a vaccine that requires them to travel to a mass vaccination site or doctor's office.

Through the new program, which is initially starting in Yonkers, New York, these patients can make a vaccine appointment online, and a vaccinator will be sent to their home to give them a COVID-19 shot.

Ro said the service was free for the patients and that it would also arrange to cover the transportation costs for the healthcare workers. Uber is partially helping cover these costs through donated free rides, Ro said.

A company spokeswoman said in a pilot version of the program that it recently completed, 90% of patients were non-white, while nearly 60% had incomes lower than $15,000 a year. The average age was 79, she said.

Telehealth companies like Ro have boomed during the pandemic as many patients sought out virtual care for the first time.

Ro began as an online pharmacy selling erectile dysfunction drugs for men, but has since gone on to become a fully fledged telehealth company treating a variety of disorders for men and women.

In 2020, the company acquired Workpath to help it launch in-home care visits for its customers.

In late January, Reuters reported that Ro was exploring a potential deal with a blank-check acquisition company that would value it at more than $4 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The sources said the talks may not lead to a deal and that the company may opt to pursue other options, like another fundraising round.

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