Continuously Supporting Patients

Patients’ lives have been transformed, possibly forever, by the COVID-19 outbreak. And, they need patient support service solutions now more than ever. From drug supply and cost concerns to missed doses due to treatment access, patients’ questions are being elevated to the media.

While addressing cost concerns can help meet escalating patient needs head on, a holistic patient approach can help unlock more opportunity.

Taking a holistic look at patient challenges against the Dimensions of Wellness model reveals that every dimension is tremendously impacted. At the same time, this perspective reveals the need for mass, yet tailor-based, interventions because any change in daily habits affects health and the need for support.

 

How COVID-19 Is Changing Patient Lives
 

The Dimensions of Wellness encompasses 8 interacting dimensions. They interact and contribute to overall quality of life. Any disruption in a dimension can impact another and throw off the balance – think of this as a domino effect. Let’s take a deeper look at how 6 of the dimensions are being affected by COVID-19:

Dimension of Wellness

COVID-19 Effects and Some Hypotheses

Emotional

Fear of the unknown (and possibly known) about COVID-19 adds additional mental stress. This affects individuals’ mental health as well as abilities to handle life’s stresses and adapt to difficult situations. 

It is proven that when emotions are heightened, the ability to understand and recall information is reduced – a phenomenon called Attention Narrowing. This can lead to misunderstanding in disease and treatment education as well as administration errors.

Social

Social distancing practices result in disconnection from friends, family, colleagues, and more, leading to disruption in support systems. Support systems are essential to navigating both good times and the bad. 

COVID-19 is pushing social connections toward virtual channels rather than live interactions – including anything from video chatting with grandparents to virtual health check-ins with healthcare providers.

Financial

From job layoffs leading to health insurance loss to market turbulence leading to reduced savings, individual finances are taking a quick, unexpected hit. 

Specifically, in healthcare, these changes affect patients’ ability to maintain consistent access and pay for medications. Lack of continuous access leads to treatment delays and breaks directly affecting adherence and health outcomes. 

Occupational

For nonessential workers, the shift from office to work from home has led to increased utilization of online meetings and video conference to stay connected and informed. At the same time, this shifts the balance between work and personal time – further deepened by the need to care for family members during working hours. Priorities shift to aid immediate distractions away from personal health needs.

For essential workers, there is a constant worry about exposure to the virus while balancing new work schedules and reduced store hours creates the need for lifestyle adjustments. In terms of access to care and treatment timing, these adjustments affect diagnosis and dosing timing as well as follow-ups.

Physical

Self-care is essential to maintaining health during the COVID-19 outbreak. Being able to identify one’s own vital signs and understand the body’s warning signs related to illness are becoming more essential – no matter the disease, condition, or infection type.

Overlapping symptoms can be confusing to patients regarding whether what they are experiencing is their disease, treatment side effects, or potentially COVID-19 virus symptoms.

Environmental

Shelter-at-home guidelines affect individuals’ ability to connect to the world around them. For people requiring in-clinic therapies like infusions or injections, they may be uncomfortable starting and/or maintaining treatments in outpatient settings due to risk of infection – especially for those who are immunosuppressed. 

Other patients may struggle with transportation to/from appointments and treatments due to changes in transit systems and care partner support availability.

For general health concerns, there has been an exponential rise in telehealth consultation as a result of these COVID-19 fears. Further, there is incredible acceptance and openness on the physician side for telehealth; although, capabilities to deliver this service are limited.

Recommendations For Adapting Patient Service Design 


Our recommendations focus on driving awareness of Patient Support Programs (PSPs) and expanding service access into additional channels to R.E.A.C.H. patients where they are.

Reflect

Recommendations

Reflect the channels and words that patients are using. Be where they already are and show them how the services can benefit them – reflecting and tailoring responses to their unique situations.

Solutions

Two-way engagement within social channels can answer questions and connect patients to appropriate resources like tailored COVID-19 information to specific disease states. 

Leverage technology with facial mapping and natural linguistic analysis. This will help track patient emotions and comprehension over time – allowing fortailored responses that reduce emotional load. This technology is available in virtual health assistants or can be added as a tool for live support teams.

  Elevate

Recommendations

Elevate the availability of PSP services to increase awareness of program offerings and benefits and increase direct access to support services – for both healthcare professionals and patients. 

Historically, these programs have low levels of awareness, but now is their time to shine by being front and center in both healthcare professional and patient outreach.

Solutions

Two-way engagement within social channels can answer questions and connect patients to appropriate resources like tailored COVID-19 information to specific disease states. 

Leverage technology with facial mapping and natural linguistic analysis. This will help track patient emotions and comprehension over time – allowing fortailored responses that reduce emotional load. This technology is available in virtual health assistants or can be added as a tool for live support teams.

Anticipate

Recommendations

Anticipate, plan, and track patient needs and questions leveraging specialty expertise who are trained in the evolving needs of patients, and can triage patients to appropriate care. 

Also anticipate a higher demand of HUB services and live support and the potential for reduced capacity on the physician side to handle trouble-shooting.

Solutions

Two-way engagement within social channels can answer questions and connect patients to appropriate resources like tailored COVID-19 information to specific disease states. 

Leverage technology with facial mapping and natural linguistic analysis. This will help track patient emotions and comprehension over time – allowing fortailored responses that reduce emotional load. This technology is available in virtual health assistants or can be added as a tool for live support teams.

Clarify

Recommendations

Clarify complex information by breaking it down into digestible chunks and actionable steps – taking a page from health literacy and learning principles. 

Many of these situations are extremely complex and patients will be exposed to terminology they may not have heard before – like medical and access jargon. Have teams ready to respond and do so using patient friendly language drive comprehension.

Solutions

Two-way engagement within social channels can answer questions and connect patients to appropriate resources like tailored COVID-19 information to specific disease states. 

Leverage technology with facial mapping and natural linguistic analysis. This will help track patient emotions and comprehension over time – allowing fortailored responses that reduce emotional load. This technology is available in virtual health assistants or can be added as a tool for live support teams.

Help

Recommendations

Ask: How can we? Then ask: Is this the right thing to do at this time and the right way to do it? Remember these are sensitive, deeply personal, and unprecedented times that need careful navigation and reflection.

Solutions

Stop and pressure-test at every key milestone.

Please contact your account leads or ross.quinn@fcb.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above.