What COVID-19 reveals about medication needs
COVID-19 continues to impact how we live, work, and approach various aspects of daily life. With new variants and new regulations, the pandemic has changed many of the simple tasks that we often taken for granted. It has also revealed new ideas and understanding of how things can work amid uncertain circumstances. For patients on medication therapy, staying safe and consistent during the pandemic has created additional challenges, and revealed new opportunities to support patients’ medication journeys.
Chronic conditions impact a lot of people
From the start of the outbreak to global lockdowns to the availability of vaccines, COVID-19 brought to light just how many people live with a chronic condition. Patients with compromised immune systems or living with a serious illness are those most at risk of developing sever complications from exposure to the virus. In fact, 133 million Americans live with a chronic condition. This population were often those hit hardest among new restrictions and were the first group to receive vaccines in addition to available booster shots. Restrictions and outbreaks revealed just how many people across the country live with a chronic condition, and the true threat of infection from the virus.
Prevention and protection can have a ripple effect on patient care
In addition to the millions of patients living with a chronic condition, there are a multitude of caregivers, family and friends that help support loved ones with compromised health. Through this lens, it’s clear to see how preventive acts can have a greater impact on patient care. Acts such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, mask use, and finally vaccinations are easy preventive measures that help the individual, but also work to reduce the spread to those living with a chronic condition. And with a virus as serious as COVID-19, patients who live with manageable conditions such as hypertension or diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.
With a virus as easily transmissible as COVID-19, physicians have reported countless cases where an asymptomatic patient transmitted the virus to someone else with pre-existing health conditions, leading to serious health issues and/or hospitalization. To help reduce the risk (and potentially end the pandemic) public health experts continue to recommend simple acts of prevention and protection. Caregivers, healthcare providers, first responders, and those on the front lines with direct exposure to patients were the first group to receive vaccinations. By first vaccinating those who care for patients living with chronic conditions, there is a ripple effect outward of prevention.
Medication therapy is a lifeline for those with serious illnesses
Periods of lockdown across the globe have become a hallmark of the pandemic, leading to new ways of operating and surviving amid threats of a serious illness. Once routine tasks such as shopping and movie going ground to a halt. This also added new complexities for those who rely on medications to keep health issues in check. Patients were no longer able to readily visit a provider, dash into a drug store, or get new medications. COVID reveals just how essential medication therapy is for the more than 56 million Americans who take 3 or more drugs each day. Despite these challenges, many healthcare systems pivoted to telehealth services to serve patients while reducing the risk. One of the bright spots from the pandemic has been the healthcare industry’s embrace of digital health, and the ability for patients to stay connected via new health tech platforms.
By using technology to support communication and care, patients can take an active role in their health, establish digital connections with providers, and stay consistent on treatment. Patients who rely on medication and ongoing medical care welcome the shift, appreciating more personalized interactions, faster response time, and the convenience of home-based care. Sixty percent of patients plan to continue using technology to communicate with providers in the future. And health systems are expanding the benefits of digital health channels across the ecosystem to ensure patient never walk through their medication journey alone and unsupported.
Staying consistent on medication is key to managing health
Throughout the pandemic, especially during periods of lockdown, patients turned to digital health resources to stay connected to their health and track their medication use. Amid uncertainty and limited access to healthcare providers, the need to stay consistent on medication became paramount for those who rely on medications. Along with following safety protocols to reduce the spread of COVID, staying consistent on medication was also essential for those living with chronic conditions. Should a patient fall of their medication schedule, it poses serious health risks that could lead to severe complications.
The impact of the COVID virus and lingering pandemic continues to have an impact on the lives of patients and has changed many elements of how healthcare operates across the globe. It has also revealed how important medication management can be during times of uncertainty and limited resources, shining light on the advancement of digital health tools to meet those needs. As we navigate a new future and prepare for future changes, digital health solutions are no longer closing the gap in between traditional care resources – they are changing how patients access their health and therapy, providing a digital handhold throughout their journey no matter what lies ahead.