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Saturday, January 23, 2021
Home Specialties Primary Care/Family Medicine How to help patients through the COVID-19 pandemic

How to help patients through the COVID-19 pandemic

This post is sponsored by SingleCare

As a healthcare provider, you’re the one your patients turn to for advice—on prescriptions, symptoms, or support when they’re diagnosed with a new condition. In 2020, healthcare workers have been called on more than ever before to help patients through an unprecedented global pandemic. You’re a front-line, essential worker working hard every day to help your patients. Here are some ways you can make this stressful time a little easier—emotionally and physically.

1. Stay informed about local testing.

If your patients think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, emphasize that they should not come into your office. If they have symptoms of the novel coronavirus, it could put your entire staff at risk. Instead, send them to a testing site. Then, recommend at-home treatments—and what to do if symptoms worsen. For example, difficulty breathing merits a trip to the emergency room.

2. Explain the best ways to be prepared.

Patients should refill their prescriptions and have over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and pedialyte on hand. It’s a good idea for them to purchase a thermometer. It can’t hurt to have extra canned goods in the pantry.

They should not try to stockpile drugs purported to treat COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine or dexamethasone. These prescriptions have potential drug-drug interactions and should only be used when appropriate—usually after a patient is hospitalized. If you have patients with lupus or asthma who already take these medications as part of their disease management, offer to set up refills so they don’t have to worry about running out. Reassure them that pharmacies have measures in place to ensure an adequate supply.

3. Encourage no (or low) contact healthcare.

When COVID-19 rates spike in your community, offer virtual visits for your patients with concerns that can be treated without in-person tests. When prescriptions are needed, recommend that patients use a pharmacy drive-thru or home delivery. Many pharmacies are offering this service at no charge during the pandemic. And prescription savings card SingleCare has partnered with GeniusRx to offer free delivery of 4,000 popular medications at low prices.

4. Sync prescription refills.

Sixty-nine percent of adults have taken a prescription in the last 30 days, according to the CDC. That’s a lot of visits to the pharmacy that you can help your patients avoid. Offer 90-day fills to minimize trips out of the house. For patients who take multiple medications, offer refills of everything (within reason) at the same time. That way patients can pick up all the medications they need while limiting the number of times they have to go to the pharmacy counter.

5. Counsel patients on safety measures.

Install physical barriers in your office, like plexiglass, and add stickers showing the appropriate distance to keep from other patients. It’s a good idea to remind patients of social distancing when they are in your space.

Remind your patients that these same measures apply when they’re at home. Emphasize that frequent handwashing, wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible are the best ways to prevent infection.

Now, more than ever, treat your patients how you would want your family member to be treated. It’s a stressful year. You are busier than ever, and maybe even concerned about your own exposure. But at the same time, most people are isolated or scared, and you may be the only person that this patient talks to all day. Maintaining calmness, with a little extra friendliness, is the best way to help ease fear and comfort patients.

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