How to Save Our Heroes? – Our Frontline Health Workers
The UNDP describes Covid-19 pandemic as the worst predicament we've ever faced since World War II. While scientists, manufacturers and governments are combining efforts to manage the epidemic by researching new drugs, vaccines and building makeshift hospitals, etc., one critical aspect seems to be overlooked: The healthcare workers.
While they're an indispensable linkage in the health provision chain, it seems like they're not being covered adequately.
A Growing Dilemma
At a time when the healthcare professionals are struggling to deal with burnout, the Covid-19 pandemic still threatens to add more pain to their miseries. Their numbers are drastically being cut down by the infection, quarantine measures, and even death in worst-case scenarios, thus taking a terrible toll on the mental and physical strength for workers who still manage to survive the infection.
Moreover, the physicians do not only risk their lives while trying to save others but also risks spreading the infection to their loved ones back at home. The insufficiency of protective gear globally takes the chances of contracting the infection through the roofs.
Isolating the affected healthcare workers in quarantine may only bring them more depression and stress because of the lack of the most crucial emotional family support. As if that's not enough, health professionals are being forced to make radical decisions–some of which they had never faced before.
A perfect example is choosing the patients to give critical care because there are not enough ventilators to serve all patients. This is not only confusing but also emotionally traumatizing for these doctors.
What Can Be Done to Save the Situation
It's clear that the situation is terrible, and going by recent research, it could move from bad to worse. According to a study that was published in JAMA Network Open Journal, 50.4% front line health workers showed depression symptoms. As if that wasn't enough, 34.0% showed insomnia, while 71.5% and 44.6% respectively reported distress and anxiety symptoms.
The news also has it that two nurses have since committed suicide due to the burden of this crisis. Some doctors, however, simply choose to distance themselves from the whole mess and resent being on the frontlines due to lack of enough protection and the right guidance.
To manage the situation, it's prudent that we all team up and define strategies, realistic roadmaps and approaches that address the problems which frontline health workers face currently. We should also come up with strategies that can help manage the situation during these trying times for efficient and effective healthcare delivery.
One of these options is the use of Connected Clinic
Connected Clinic Meaning
This is a vision for extending a full-fledged clinic that uses technology to allow room for virtual care, caregivers, physicians and patients. It lets them engage contextually so patients can get 24/7 support on one platform.
With the Connected Clinic Model, the healthcare workers can now maintain focus on offering top-level quality healthcare services to patients and not be bothered by other administrative tasks.
It has three core components:
Interoperable Clinical Data (ICD)
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
With the connected clinic, patients can remotely access care from anywhere at any given time. It works by allowing the patients to request visits through devices like smart phones or computer then connect with certified caregivers.
A caregiver will then triage, make a diagnosis on the patient then recommend the right care or course of treatment. Depending on the patient's condition, the care manager may recommend over-the-counter prescriptions or advice the patient to get in-person care if the situation is more complicated.
Interoperable Clinical Data
With this data, healthcare workers can access a patient's clinical information instantly in a standardized and secure manner to help with diagnosis and treatment. Some of the information that the doctor will access include Aggregated Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs and C-CDAs), lab results and discharge summaries, among others.
Remote Patient Monitoring
With the Remote Patient Monitoring functionality of the Connected Clinic, the doctors can monitor the patients' statuses remotely from the central station. The RPM feature will relay all the vital information like alerts and every essential update captured regarding the patient's health each second.
A Glimmer of Hope for the Frontline Health Workers
Going by the recent government regulations, e.g. the Affordable Care Act Incentives and MACRA, it's now even easier for clinics to use new technology right away. Don't wait on and risk penalties in the long run. Adopt the approved operational skills and technology to make healthcare workers’ jobs easier and help save more lives.