The hazards – known and unknown — of the present public health crisis can seem overwhelming as we adjust to our new circumstances. We fear for ourselves and our loved ones: our aging parents who live in a different city and are more susceptible to COVID-19; our children, who may be less prone to getting sick but can still spread the virus; and our friends and colleagues who have health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable.
Hospitals and community clinics are preparing as best they can for what’s to come. Given the expected rise in patient volume, it is important that people who are only mildly ill or injured avoid going to hospitals in order to allow those institutions to care for the truly sick and needy, and to limit the transmission of the virus.
The healthcare workers and clinicians are the heroes on the front lines of this public health battle, risking their own personal safety to deliver care to others. Our gratitude to them is immense, and we should do anything we can to ease their burden. Utilizing technology may help. For example, healthcare organizations can offer to:
• Let patients download an app that enables them to track symptoms and communicate with the clinic/hospital as needed;
• Use a Web portal to manage incoming messages from patients who have questions about their symptoms, so clinicians can look the symptoms up, reference medication lists, and determine whether to bring the patient in;
• Use telehealth solutions to monitor high-risk patients remotely so as not to expose them to further infection.
In our experience, some of our hospital friends have told us that they have seen cases where patients are not discharged in a timely way because they might be at risk of non-compliance or unable to follow a care plan and take medications accurately. Such patients could be given digital health assistant tools to help stay connected to the clinicians, who could provide guidance to the patient on following a plan of care.
For patients suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD), technology can help addiction clinics run programs like Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) virtually. It can also keep patients going through recovery connected via group chat so they can support each other from home, in touch with a recovery coach, and, of course, able to follow their daily guided care plan to keep them on track with recovery.
The challenge is how to help hospitals and clinics fast-track the adoption of these and other technologies that may help them more efficiently meet the demands of the current situation. We know that budget constraints can sometimes be an obstacle to technology adoption. That’s why we at Illuminate Health are offering our platform which provides the Recovery Coach app free of charge to any clinic or hospital that can benefit from it.
Getting through this crisis will require all of us working together for a common cause. There is no bigger challenge that Americans face than the defeat of this virus. Illuminate Health stands at the ready.
-Varun Goyal, Co-Founder & CEO, Illuminate Health