Staying Connected with Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Staying Connected with Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
August 19, 2021 by eMedEvents

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, drastically changing the practice of medicine. The in-person medical visits plunged to a record low in a few weeks while quarantining and social distancing became the new norm. To stop the COVID-19 transmission and protect the patients and healthcare professionals, many hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes imposed certain restrictions and restricted their visitor count. 

Amid the increased COVID-19 infections, the healthcare system struggled to support the patients and loved ones during the visitor restrictions. Meanwhile, telemedicine which was almost nonexistent in most parts of the world, emerged to its fullest and took center stage. 

Professor, and chair of neurology at the University of Florida, Michael Okun, says that COVID-19 "created a great disaster in the public health system. Those infected with viruses couldn't get the care they needed, and people without the disease could not get their standard care."

The fear of the virus was so high that people who delayed all kinds of health care preferred to stay indoors. In the United States, there were a sharp decrease of 42% in emergency department (ED) visits in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The multisite Mayo Clinic, the most extensive U.S. healthcare system, seeing over 1.2 million patients each year, was not far behind as there was a 78% decrease in in-person visits from mid-March to mid-April. Only 18% of the U.S. physicians provided telehealth services, and less than 10% of the U.S. population used the telehealth services before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent surveys show that half of Americans prefer phone or web conference-based consultations rather than in-person consultations. It reduces visit and waits time and eliminates the need to travel to and from a doctor's office, and is seen as potentially safer.

Interestingly, Mayo's digital health services skyrocketed during the same period, while video appointments and patient homes saw a significant increase. The medical director for synchronous services at Mayo's Centre for Connected Care, Bart Demaerschalk, says that the COVID-19 U.S. enhanced digital health by about ten years.

Amid restrictions and suspended in-person hospital visits, staying connected with the patients is quite challenging and requires some unique ways of communication to mitigate the gap. Below are some of the ways to remain connected with the patients amid a period of uncertainty.

 

Keep your website active.

Maintaining an online presence is always vital. Recognize your patients' concerns, let them know the steps you are taking to combat COVID-19, and make sure your patients get up-to-date information.

 

Enhance your social media presence.

People frequently check social media for the latest updates about COVID-19 and remain in touch with community members. To maintain a consistent presence in the patient's newsfeed, make sure you post your message frequently on social media by adding a picture or a video to increase engagement.

 

Engage with your patient.

Ensure that the information you are sharing is valuable, engaging, and stimulating for your target audience. You can add some advice about maintaining routine oral care, a blog, and a short demonstration video in your content to make it more engaging.

 

Organize Live Chat Sessions.

To listen and address patient's queries and emergencies, chat service is regarded as an essential tool. You can offer chat sessions to your patients to chat with you and your staff through several messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype are the other video conferencing options that you can offer through which your patient can talk to you.

 

Encourage patients to maintain healthy habits.

Reminding patients to take care of themselves is always pivotal. Encourage your patients through a piece of valuable information about proper handwashing, stress management, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

 

There is immense pressure on healthcare professionals due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the demand for doctors' consultation for infectious and chronic diseases has increased to many folds. You can reach and interact with a doctor virtually without visiting the clinic because of the technology. Though virtual interaction has its limitations, it enables you to see your patient from his setting. This mode of communication helps you gain additional insights about your patient that can ultimately improve treatment.

 

To know more about COVID-19 and how to stay connected during the pandemic, sign up for the below eMedEvents:

1. Beyond the Crisis of 2020: Caring for Ourselves and Each other, Staying Connected

Organizer: Beaumont Health

Start Date: Nov30, 2020

End Date: November 29, 2022

Credits: CME 0.5

Ticket Cost: Free

 

2. Telehealth Challenges and Opportunities

Organizer: Quantum Units Education

Start Date: January 03, 2020

End Date: Jan o3, 2022

Ticket Cost: Free

 

3. COVID-19 Pandemic Health Disparities and Paediatric Health Care-The Promise of Telehealth

Organizer: American Medical Association (AMA)

Start Date: December 07, 2020

End Date: December 07, 2023

Credits: CME 1

Ticket Cost: Free

 

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341253483_Staying_connected_during_the_COVID-19_pandemic
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348316675_Staying_Connected_Reaching_Out_to_Psychiatric_Patients_During_the_Covid-19_Lockdown_Using_an_Online_Blog
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344117236_Communicating_Through_COVID-19_Keeping_Patients_Connected_to_Loved_Ones
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus/articles/stay-connected.html
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33202349/
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