In the current situation in which we have been for two months, the priority of all of us is to help reduce the number of patients infected with COVID-19 as much as possible and offer the best care to those who suffer from it. However, this does not mean that, amid the chaos of figures, measures and extensions of the state of alarm, an equally important group comes to mind, and now more vulnerable than ever: chronic patients.
During the months of confinement, various measures have been implemented with the aim of minimizing the risk of these patients and continuing to care for them. Measures such as the automatic renewal of prescriptions, which prevent patients from having to go to the health center; the creation of hospitals in areas with low exposure to COVID-19, so that no patient is left unattended; and even the protection of these patients through sick leave.
In the same way, from our organizations we can carry out measures to improve the experience of chronic patients. Measures that will help reduce your worry, manage your uncertainty, improve your co-responsibility ... In summary, to be closer to them, improving their perception of health.
Make the most of technology
If there is one thing we have shown in this crisis, it is the enormous pride we feel in our healthcare professionals. You just have to look out the window at 20:00 to see it and, above all, to feel it. This pride is not only due to the titanic effort they have made, but also to the adaptability they have shown. Among many other aspects, they have managed to pass, in a matter of days, from a mostly face-to-face service to developing and using platforms that facilitate remote monitoring from the patients. And it is precisely here that we see an opportunity for chronic patients.
The results of II Study of Measurement of Patient Experience in Private Healthcare in Spain, we saw that digital applications are a very effective tool in improving the co-responsibility of patients. That is to say, they facilitate self-management of their process and make them more responsible for their own care. Specifically, we see that the applications involve the patient to the point of improving their co-responsibility by more than 10 points, in the case of diabetes and respiratory diseases. And not only that, in addition, the data indicates that patients who use these applications experience a greater sense of improvement than those who do not use them.
For this reason, we must take advantage of the momentum that COVID-19 has given us and use the same technology, logistics and organization that the use of these platforms requires, to also improve the experience of chronic patients.
Being present even when we are not
Patients are very clear about what the three most important aspects when choosing the center in which to treat. When asked, they refer to three elements: the help of the medical team during and after hospitalization; the fullfilment of security requirements throughout the entire process and have facilitiesduring the management of this.
No doubt. All three are central to the patient experience. However, by the time we find ourselves, we must put special focus on the first. Today this is more difficult than ever. The patients are far away, since we have asked them not to go to the medical center if it is not strictly necessary. But if there's one thing we all agree on, we want to continue taking care of them. Also in the distance.
What does it mean for patients to be present at all times during their illness? For them, this is:
- Have an reference figure and understand how it can help you during your pathology. For example, accompanying them and being at their disposal when they need it.
- Have access to this figure to resolve doubts and get help in case of complications.
- Dispose of tips to help you take better care of yourself and make your day to day easier, in addition to avoiding complications or relapses.
A call to remember how to contact us, advice to improve your self-care, an indication to prevent a possible crisis ... Simple actions that can be carried out very simply and that will help us to be present, even when we are not there.
These days we have read and learned a lot about COVID-19 patient experience: What symptoms do you have, what moments you live, what emotions predominate at each moment ... Really useful information to truly understand what this disease means -beyond the medical details that many of us can already recite by heart-, and to be able to contribute where we need.
Now we propose to go one step further: to do everything in our power to understand, not only the coronavirus patient, but all those chronic patients who are experiencing this situation in a delicate way. Only then can we know what they really need, and do our best to offer it to them.
And this starts with understand the process they live in an integral way. Not only when they are in person at our centers or hospitals, or when they use our services. But also when they are alone, in their day to day, and have to deal with emotions such as uncertainty or fear.
In short, now more than ever we must slow down, ask ourselves questions and reflect: how are these patients living the current situation? What are we doing to help them? What areas have we not covered yet? Understanding what they live moment by moment will bring us closer to real patients. And it is going to offer us the guides on which to work to improve your day to day and your perception of improving your health.