Delta Variant Fueling New Surge
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to healthcare providers across the US. From the outset in March of 2020 up to today, hospitals and health systems have had to navigate unpredictable and ever changing circumstances. This has included delivering care via telehealth and remote monitoring, screening and monitoring staff and patients for potential exposure, delivering high volumes of COVID-19 test results in a timely manner, and coordinating equitable and efficient delivery of vaccinations.
In early June of 2021, it seemed we had turned a corner on the pandemic with the number of cases at an all time low. Americans started getting back to everyday activities and interactions and, for healthcare, non-COVID patients could resume normal care and care teams could breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID emerged this summer and that, combined with a large number of the population resistant to receiving a vaccination, has sent cases again soaring.
The Urgent Need to Reach Unvaccinated Populations
A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review highlighted the “7 ways this COVID-19 surge is different” – the most crucial one is that new COVID infections are occurring in patients who are not vaccinated. With about half of Americans still unvaccinated, the delta variant – which is very contagious – poses a very real threat to meaningful recovery from the pandemic. In addition to spreading rapidly, it appears to lead to more serious illness for unvaccinated younger people who did not previously feel threatened by the virus.
Patient engagement technology can help healthcare providers deliver vaccine advice and dispel myths and misinformation on a large scale. Most people trust their healthcare provider, so addressing vaccine hesitancy in a series of short, easy to understand messages can help alleviate fears and increase vaccination rates. Communicating the more serious risk of the delta variant could also help people better understand the urgency of the current situation.
Another added benefit of automating outreach to the patient population is breaking down safety guidance into bite sized messages. As scientific information evolves, messages can be easily revised to ensure everyone has accurate information about the COVID-19 Delta variant that they can understand and follow.
Continuing to Support Clinicians in Caring for COVID-19-Infected Patients
By slowing the current surge, we will also alleviate the immense pressure healthcare providers are under, allow for non-COVID patients to safely receive the care they need, and enable a virus-fatigued population’s return to normal life.
Up to this point, healthcare organizations have engaged their technology partners to pivot, get creative, and quickly respond to a rapidly changing situation. In addition to the shift to telehealth where possible, healthcare providers have also leveraged technology to safely monitor COVID-positive patients at home when possible, freeing up valuable hospital beds for the seriously ill.
Monitoring Patients Safely and Efficiently at Home
Providence, headquartered in Renton, WA, with facilities in seven states, managed thousands of positive and presumptive COVID patients in their homes, while safely increasing nurse coordinator case loads by 4X using a clinician-friendly platform to focus valuable nursing resources on the patients who need immediate attention. Patient adoption reached 89% because patients can access education, complete assessment forms, and securely text staff without logging-in to a portal or App.
Remote Monitoring of COVID-19 patients
Providence was the first to encounter the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Their focus immediately turned to preparing their hospitals for COVID-19 patient surge expansion and planning.
Automating COVID-19 Test Results
The Carle Foundation, headquartered in Bloomington, IL, and others, are using patient engagement technology to communicate about the vaccine and rapidly deliver test results to help limit the spread of COVID by asymptomatic carriers. Now there is a new and urgent need to communicate with the community and move the needle on the vaccination rate.
Streamlining Proactive Vaccine Communication
Care New England (CNE) in Rhode Island used patient messaging technology to invite patients to schedule a vaccination appointment across multiple locations. They were able to target individual patients effectively within widely varying patient populations, not just those highly active on email or those that are in hospital, or of any one demographic. The CNE team was able to significantly augment outreach efforts and use response data to identify patients who truly needed to be contacted directly. CNE’s goal is to ensure that the vaccination effort is as equitable as possible for all.
COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Management
Deliver user-friendly content to patients’ mobile phones to proactively answer questions, alleviate anxiety, and support them throughout the vaccination process.
Build and edit message content and protocols to meet changing needs.
The COVID-19 virus and its variants are likely to haunt us for several more months, and we must empower our exhausted frontline caregivers with patient engagement tools that provide some level of workload relief. Health systems must take advantage of mass messaging tools and embrace their trusted advisor status by transmitting real-time updates to communities about: their COVID-infected patient demographics and statistics, science-based vaccine data, encouragement to obtain the COVID vaccine, and information about vaccine administration locations and scheduling. Rapid delivery of COVID testing results via secure text supports early quarantine and reduces spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. And finally, secure patient messaging is a safe and effective alternative for screening and monitoring the exposed and less acutely ill patient populations, while alerting caregivers when symptoms warrant intervention. By slowing the current surge, we will alleviate the immense pressure healthcare providers are under, allow for non-COVID patients to safely receive the care they need, and enable a virus-fatigued population’s return to normal life.
Since the outset of the pandemic, Twistle has been partnering with health systems to quickly deploy communication pathways and adapt to a rapidy changing situation. If you need help reaching patients, contact us to learn more!