How Telehealth Can Help Improve Health Outcomes for Immune-Compromised Patients

Telehealth has enjoyed a huge boom in the ‘era of new normality’, with health professionals across the globe treating patients with conditions ranging from diabetes to osteoarthritis, and even those opting for plastic surgery. Although this mode of treatment is useful for patients as a whole during the COVID-19 crisis, it can be no less than a lifeline for those with immune-compromised systems. McKinsey research shows that the worth of telehealth has expanded to a quarter trillion dollars in the post-COVID reality.

Patients are Satisfied with Telehealth Appointments

Research published by the CDC has indicated that telemedicine was a safe method to deliver Type 1 diabetes care (in this case to rural patients). Their findings showed that patients who received this type of care had overall improvements and improved glycemic control. The researchers stated, “Our findings are in line with those of other studies that suggest that diabetes care via telemedicine is comparable to in-person diabetes care.” The findings also showed that telemedicine led to substantial cost savings while providing positive outcomes.

What it Means To Be Immune-Compromised

The range of persons whose immunity is compromised is vast; it includes those with chronic diseases like HIV or AIDS, as well as those with Type 1 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases (as is the case with cancer) the immunity is weakened because of medication. In others, it is due to having recently undergone organ or bone marrow transplant. Older people also tend to have immune systems that work worse than those of their younger counterparts. There is a strong link between having one or more of these conditions, and having complications from COVID-19. The CDC reports, for instance, that 71% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 (and 78% of those in intensive care) had at least one serious health issue. Such are the risks faced by these groups of people that it is important for them to avoid visiting areas where they could potentially come across people who are COVID-10-positive  – including closed spaces such as hospitals and health centers.

Telehealth and Patients with Cancer

Cancer patients comprise one group of immune-compromised patients who face rigorous cycles of treatments that typically last months. During this time, the effects of treatment include nausea, fatigue, and lower immunity. Despite the great value of social support during cancer recovery, group activities are usually discouraged, because of the compromised immunity of those receiving treatment. Telehealth can fill the missing gap by providing psychosocial support as well as key advice on monitoring symptoms and imparting key information and advice.

Telehealth the Perfect Bridge between Social and Educational Support 

In telemedicine, a talk will often begin with a patient discussing their symptoms, the effects of different medication, and the like. The health professional will usually discuss effective ways to enhance the immunity, sometimes through the consumption of fiber-rich and probiotic foods. They can also discover new recommendations and studies on the effectiveness of low-calorie diets, exercise, and the like. However, the health professional can also turn the talk to mental health, recommending activities such as yoga, found in many studies to help reduce anxiety and depression and boost the mood during radiotherapy and other treatments for breast cancer, for instance.

Telehealth Can Be a Help Even in Highly Specialized Clinical Practices

A recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal has found that telehealth has many unexpected benefits during the pandemic – one of which is its ability to meet the standard of care in highly specialized clinical practices. Study author, Alan Kramer, reported, “Out of necessity, we were forced to innovate quickly. What we found is that it is actually a really good fit.” People receiving care for conditions relating to the immunity or those receiving treatments that can weaken the immune system, have several issues to handle – including privacy, insurance, and patient access. As the authors stated, telemedicine has been surprisingly well at upping access and other aspects.

The Ease of Keeping Appointments

Patients with weakened immune systems may sometimes feel too tired, nauseous, or depressed to attend in-person appointments. In this sense, telemedicine is a big boon, since it enables them to reduce hospital visits significantly, lowers their travel time, enables them to miss less working hours, reduces their stress levels, and exposes them to less pathogens that can result in new and potentially dangerous illnesses. As studies are continually stressing the importance of avoiding closed spaces during the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine is the perfect way for those who can already by more prone to contagion, to stay within the safe confines of their home.

Telehealth has brought many benefits to patients across the globe. Those with compromised immunities in particular (including those receiving treatment for cancer) are receiving not only medical advice, but also psychosocial support that can be lacking. Today, staying safe for those who are already battling illness involves social distancing and confinement, but telemedicine helps them feel more connected to the team that is caring for them.

How is telehealth benefiting your patients?

Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

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