For patients with chronic diseases, right now is a particularly scary time. Vulnerable patients with asthma; chronic lung disease, like COPD; severe obesity; diabetes; heart conditions, including AFib and congestive heart failure; and chronic kidney disease – along with other immunocompromised patients – know COVID-19 is a serious, real threat to their health.
At the same time, this patient population must continue to seek ongoing medical supervision to prevent their chronic diseases from turning into acute health crises, particularly the kind of crises that might require hospitalization in the same facility where COVID patients are receiving care. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to proliferate, physicians need to ensure their patients with chronic diseases receive continuous care. Fortunately, technology – in many forms – can help. Let’s take a closer look at a few key ways to work towards positive outcomes for these patients with chronic conditions.
Education, Guidance, & Patience
For patients with chronic diseases, education is a crucial component in engaging them in their own wellness. Now, patient education has gained special importance. The good news? Much of it can be conducted using technological tools.
First, ensure patients understand best practices for their particular health circumstances. For example, make certain hypertensive patients know the importance of regular blood pressure monitoring. Educate patients with diabetes about the necessity to remain compliant with their nutritional programs. Emphasize the significance of medication adherence.
Patient education doesn’t require face-to-face lecturing. (Does that even work under normal circumstances?) Educating patients with technology can utilize a variety of tools, including emails, text reminders, and virtual sessions with providers and health educators. Even phone sessions can prove an effective method of delivering information.
In some instances, patients cannot begin to access the benefits of technology until they know how to use technology itself. Consider seniors, who can be reticent about using their phones for basic functions that many of us take for granted, like video calling. So beware overestimating their technical prowess, and be sure to offer lots of patience.
Even patients who have successfully participated in one or two telemedicine appointments may require reminders about how to navigate a virtual appointment. In addition, follow up by phone with those patients who need extra guidance. In fact, virtual visits should be augmented by phone appointments and in-person visits. And even now, physicians can offer safeguards to see patients where they practice.
Leverage New Tools
Adopting relatively new tech tools can help physicians better ensure positive health outcomes for their patients. For example, a recently-launched take-home kit helps patients follow their personal care plans and record important biometrics with the help of a virtual assistant. In addition, remote-monitoring technology has long been a staple of certain disease management such as cardiac care. This same technology has even greater utility now that in-office visits are more challenging to facilitate.
Likewise, remote monitoring of blood pressure, glucose levels, weight, and even oxygen levels are available – and reimbursable – for most patients with chronic disease.
Most significantly, the ubiquity of video cameras on our phones, tablets, and computers has facilitated widespread adoption of telemedicine. As a result, it has never been easier to engage patients virtually and provide care remotely. What’s more, many patients with chronic conditions prefer the convenience and efficiency of telehealth.
Seek The “Human Element”– Virtually
Technology is, by nature, impersonal. However, we can still use telemedicine to connect in a substantive way with patients. A virtual visit enables physicians to see their patients’ body language and assess their general wellbeing. Moreover, for some patients, seeing their provider’s face offers a welcome human connection they may not have in their daily lives, especially when so many people are shut in due to the threat of COVID.
In addition to connecting with patients, caregivers can likewise enlist patients’ family members to participate in caring for their relatives with chronic conditions. They can help patients initiate and navigate televisits and help make them feel more comfortable using new technology tools.
Pandemic or not, people with chronic conditions need their primary care providers’ ongoing management of their diseases. Diabetes will not cure itself. And hypertension won’t go away without interventions. Fortunately, technology makes it more possible than ever to deliver care to these patients even as a deadly virus keeps us separated.
As we adopt a multi-pronged approach to chronic disease management that embraces the latest technology, we can expect better population health, fewer hospitalizations, and lower overall cost. In other words, we can expect a smoother, successful transition to value-based care.
For more information about Genuine Health Group, contact the Growth and Retention Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on quality and benchmarks, download Genuine Health’s white paper, “Five Strategies to Improve Quality Measures.”