“Long COVID” is one of the less-discussed consequences of COVID-19. It affects patients who have recovered from the infection—or thought they had.
In the UK, the healthcare sector is rolling out a digital program to help treat this illness. Other countries have also taken their own digital approach. But how are these measures managing symptoms?
Let’s take a look at what long COVID is and provide viable solutions to help practitioners manage the problems it causes for patients.
What Is Long COVID, and What Are the Symptoms?
Long COVID refers to the condition occurring when patients show COVID symptoms even after recovering from the primary COVID-19 infection. The chart below shows the prevalence of the 15 most common long COVID symptoms 30 days after the infection.
How Long COVID Is Putting a Strain on Healthcare Systems
A vast number of people contracted the COVID-19 virus, and it is reported that 25% of sufferers will see long COVID symptoms. The scale of care required to address this number of patients is yet to be understood, but hospitals need to reallocate resources and focus on treating these individuals for the long run.
Long COVID also significantly impacts healthcare systems when workers develop symptoms. In the UK, for example, the Guardian said that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) pointed out that at least 122,000 staff were suffering from long COVID.
In the same article, Dr. Helena McKeown, British Medical Association Healthcare Lead, said:
“With around 30,000 sickness absences currently linked to COVID in the NHS in England, we cannot afford to let any more staff become ill. Simply put, if they are off sick, they cannot provide care, and patients will not get the care and treatment they need.” She continued, “In the longer term, if more staff face ongoing illness from past COVID-19 infection, the implications for overall workforce numbers will be disastrous.”
What Long COVID Means for Existing Chronic Illness Sufferers
In October 2020, King’s College London published research looking at which groups are at the highest risk of developing long COVID. Individuals with more symptoms in the first week of infection, the report said, were at a higher risk of suffering prolonged consequences.
Many chronic illness sufferers, such as those with diabetes, are at risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The increased risk of getting long COVID poses numerous threats to physical health. However, it will also impact patients’ mental well-being. Managing one chronic illness drains both time and energy, let alone with the burden of other complications.
Those suffering from long COVID face the strain of illness, time, care, and attention they must devote to their daily well-being, and may also need to spend even more money on healthcare costs.
Challenges Practitioners Face
Staff shortages are already a big issue, but long COVID also causes problems for practitioners because of how complex it is. Patients can suffer from a wide range of symptoms, meaning that institutions must prepare for all possibilities.
Practitioners must also be careful not to allocate all of their resources to the primary symptoms of COVID-19. As a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in the UK said:
“People living with Long COVID have indicated that they feel abandoned and dismissed by healthcare providers and receive limited or conflicting advice.”
Practitioners must attend to patients’ needs after the initial coronavirus symptoms have passed. Expecting a percentage of patients to develop long COVID and forming strategies to treat them is crucial.
How Chronic Care Management Makes It Easier for Practitioners to Support Their Patients
In March 2021, it was announced that a digital healthcare solution would soon roll out in the UK for treating long COVID. The solution will work in conjunction with new treatment centers that have opened throughout the country. However, these measures are expensive and are not available everywhere.
Telehealth is a more accessible option, and it helps practitioners support their patients in various ways. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) and chronic care management can ensure that all patients get the support they need when they need it.
Digital healthcare solutions also enable practitioners to provide advice that will assist patients with their recovery. For example, they might point out how they can avoid fatigue or recommend an exercise routine that will help them protect their mental well-being.
Telehealth also gives practitioners a way to measure their patients’ progress outside of appointment times. Medications and care routines can be adjusted as soon as it’s necessary to do so, helping to reduce the risk of developing more severe symptoms.
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell offers a broad range of telehealth solutions to help practitioners diagnose and treat long COVID, as well as other chronic conditions. Practitioners can provide round-the-clock support while also allowing patients to receive healthcare no matter where they are.
Practitioners can also use ChronWell’s CCM to develop customized programs, helping them offer the highest level of service. The technology is some of the most reliable in the industry with highly secure encryption levels.
To find out how ChronWell can help your practice provide better support and operate more efficiently, contact an expert today.
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