The COVID-19 pandemic has seen unprecedented change in health sectors across the world as clinicians and governments face a race against time to find a vaccine. One of the biggest challenges is protecting those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 from catching it. People with chronic conditions have an increased risk of dying from coronavirus, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided steps that they should take during this time. Along with their recommendation, the TempDev team recommends taking these five steps to help protect people who are at high risk.
Reducing Unnecessary Contact by Using Technology
Social distancing to control the spread of COVID-19 has affected the lifestyle of people with a chronic condition. Clinicians are using technology to avoid a visit to a hospital or office where there is an increased risk of infection for the patient. Telehealth video calls using secure software such as OTTO Health, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Curago are useful for routine checks. Utilizing NextGen Patient Portal allows secure messaging between providers and patients and can quickly and efficiently accomplish most tasks like requesting a medication refill.
Helping Those Who Struggle with Technology
With most Healthcare Providers offering telehealth visits as a replacement for face-to-face visits, some patients are hesitant to use these services because of their lack of understanding of technology. Check-in with those who are at risk with chronic conditions and ask if they’re comfortable doing a telehealth visit and offer to do a mock visit with them to make sure their microphone and camera work properly. Also, offer to help set them up with online grocery ordering or online food delivery services so that they can still get everything they need without leaving their house.
Encourage Chronic Condition Self Monitoring during COVID-19
Empowering those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 to monitor their health and vital signs can help in keeping them safe during the global pandemic. An example includes self-monitoring blood pressure with video or phone discussions with a clinician to adjust medications. Using diabetes self-education and monitoring online platforms which enable patients to stay in control of their condition. During this pandemic, a lot of face to face education programs are closed, so offering access to education online is a positive way of supporting patients. Medical Practices can use tools like NextGen Population Health or other custom reporting capabilities to identify these patients and reach out to coordinate their continued care.
Supporting Nursing Home Staff
Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) or assisted living facilities (ALF) are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the frailty of residents, many of whom have chronic conditions. Their staff works hard to ensure the infection does not come into the facility. However, there are additional ways of reducing risk. This includes training nursing staff in tasks traditionally done by rounding clinicians such as insulin administration and wound care. By having the facility staff being supported to take on specific interventions, the numbers of people entering the home reduce, minimizing cross-infection.
Management and Treatment Escalation Plans
People with a chronic condition should have an integrated care plan which details what to do in the case of a problem, such as increased weight gain in heart failure or breathlessness in COPD. This helps people manage a problem without having to call a doctor or go to hospital. Most importantly, it should detail when help must be sought from the emergency services. This ensures people with a non-COVID issue who have a chronic condition can access care promptly.
Contact TempDev If You Need Help
COVID-19 presents a challenge for high-risk groups such as people with a chronic condition, but there are opportunities to make changes that will support people to stay independent and result in a more resilient health system. The TempDev consultants can help you better serve your patients as we all adapt to the changing world around us. Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV or contact us here.
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