The Importance of Managing Chronic Diseases During COVID-19
As employers develop and refine their strategies for returning to the workplace, one of their primary focuses is keeping workers safe. However, employees with certain chronic diseases are substantially more likely to develop serious complications from a COVID-19 infection. To mitigate that risk, proper condition management of these at-risk employees is key.
Individuals who are at a higher risk of experiencing complications include those older than 60, those who are immunocompromised, and those with serious conditions like asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, liver diseases, heart conditions, and severe obesity. Yet nearly half of Americans say they or someone they live with has delayed care due to the pandemic, and a third of them are planning to delay care at least another three months or have decided to not seek care at all.
Deploying certain clinical capabilities will help plan sponsors keep their most vulnerable members as healthy as possible during these times. We recommend plan sponsors focus on four key areas:
- Improve whole-person health while prioritizing those who are at highest risk. During a pandemic, it’s important to prioritize the needs of individuals who are at a higher risk of experiencing complications from an infection. Our Health Connect 360SM and SafeGuardRx® platforms help patients better control diabetes, asthma/COPD and many other serious chronic diseases, thereby reducing the risk of severe COVID-related complications.
- Expand virtual health options. To ensure patients safely receive the care they need while safely social distancing, our Digital Health FormularySM rigorously reviews digital health solutions for safety, effectiveness, and affordability. For example, our pulmonary remote monitoring program is increasingly important to patients because COVID-19 infection can cause lasting lung damage. This vetted digital tool allows patients to optimally manage their asthma and COPD by ensuring they use their inhalers as directed, minimizing the chances of lung damage and other severe complications.
- Ensure safe, simple access to medications. Positive health outcomes for patients with chronic diseases have been attributed to proper pharmaceutical care management, which ensures patients receive the most appropriate prescriptions. One way of improving prescribing practices is through Advanced Utilization Management, which ensures that doctors are prescribing the right medication at the right quantity for the right patient, according to clinical guidelines. Additionally, ScreenRx® provides necessary engagement for patients with potential adherence concerns, and RationalMed® ensures health and safety concerns are addressed across the plan sponsor’s total population.
- Address increased challenges by encouraging physical activity and good nutrition. Obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19 hospitalization and is often the primary risk factor for younger patients. By using rigorous data analytics and clinical insights, StepIn identifies patients who are on the path toward a diagnosis of diabetes or coronary heart disease, then supports them on their journey to better health and lowers their risk of experiencing COVID-19 complications.
Managing chronic diseases has always been a priority and is crucial to keeping patient populations healthy. However, it’s even more important during a pandemic, when those same diseases put people at a higher risk of serious complications from a COVID-19 infection.