It's only been a few months since the first patients recovered from Covid-19, but early evidence indicates some are experiencing additional complications including cardiac injury, nervous system damage, kidney damage, and psychological effects.
While there's still a lot to learn about Covid-19, based on early findings there are a handful of "no regrets" strategies organizations can take to meet the needs of recovering patients.
4 ways to bolster support
Work with post-acute partners to support therapy needs of recovering Covid-19 patients. It's critical that hospitals, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and home health agencies (HHAs) collaborate to manage the post-acute therapy needs of recovering Covid-19 patients. Consider ways to bolster post-acute staffing, establish safe discharge procedures for Covid-19 patients to SNFs, or work with HHAs to discharge patients directly to their homes with enhanced home health services.
Post-acute providers can prepare to manage an influx of Covid-19 patients by first shoring up infection control procedures in their own facilities, including building out a designated team or unit for Covid-19 patient care. Providers should additionally bolster their outpatient therapy service lines by redeploying staff and resources to meet increased demand for therapy post-discharge.
Return specialists to their original roles based on anticipated patient demand. Many organizations redeployed physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to care for a surge of Covid-19 patients in the ED and ICU. As leaders think about who to transition back (when capacity allows), prioritize service lines that support the most common post-discharge complications among recovered Covid-19 patients.
For example, CV service lines will likely experience increased demand resulting from a combination of rescheduled procedures, existing patients with acute needs due to delayed care, and new patients who may have developed a complication from Covid-19.
Maximize remote patient monitoring capabilities to surface and manage patients' needs. Patients recovering from Covid-19 may require additional monitoring after an ED visit or hospital stay. Consider using remote patient monitoring to regularly check in on patients via text. You may also be able to leverage existing monitoring technology, such as tablets and wearable devices, to track patient vital signs and remind patients to share critical health updates with their providers. If concerns arise, clinicians can follow-up via a call or virtual visit.
Some providers are also proactively extending these services to patients with chronic conditions who are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19 and are experiencing disruptions in care.
- Proactively connect Covid-19 patients and their families to behavioral health support. As part of the discharge process, share information with patients and their caregivers around the potential psychological effects of quarantine, isolation, and ICU stays, including delirium, depression, and anxiety. Provide guidance for caregivers about signs to look out for, and ensure they know where to turn if they need additional support, including: dedicated hotlines, virtual visits with a behavioral health provider, and a list of resources available through external organizations or payers in your market. Recovered patients aren't the only ones who may need support services; also encourage family members or caregivers to use these resources to support their mental health and well-being.
As we learn more about the short- and long-term effects of Covid-19, continue to share your findings with our team. For the latest guidance from your peers, take look at Covid-19 guidance from clinicians at the forefront.