Managing chronic conditions has always been critical in regards to improving employee health and reducing healthcare costs. With the emergence of the COVID-19 health crisis, it’s more important than ever as patients with chronic conditions have a higher risk of complications with COVID-19. With a multitude of telehealth resources available, discover how pharmacists can make a significant impact on patients with chronic conditions.
Speakers: Jessica Lea, CEO, Pharm.D., EMBA, BCPP Jason Grace, Director of Clinical Services, Pharm.D. Austin Morgan, Pharm.D. Date: April 23, 2020 Time: 11:00AM – 12:00PM CDT
It seems like every day we are inundated with COVID-19 information. While important, it can be overwhelming and depressing. For people with chronic conditions, it can be downright scary! Managing chronic conditions is more important than ever. Tria Health’s pharmacists have been hard at work, providing care to patients with chronic conditions, helping them through these trying times. Here are some recent patient success stories.
Allergies or COVID-19?
It can be difficult individuals to understand the differences between allergies, asthma or COVID-19 symptoms. Knowing how to distinguish the condition will help in expediting treatment. For help understanding the differences between symptoms, see this Respiratory Illness Chart.
A patient had allergies, high blood pressure, and was struggling with her asthma. She couldn’t afford her inhaler and was terrified to leave her house due to COVID-19. Tria Health assisted the patient with getting the medication cost reduced and coordinated with the patient’s doctor and pharmacy. Tria was able to get the medication sent directly to the patient, reducing her risk of exposure. Tria was there to answer all her questions and concerns and educate her on the difference between respiratory illnesses.
Social Distancing Reducing Visits
For some, going into the doctor’s office was the only way of receiving affordable medications through samples or trial packets. Due to COVID-19, some people haven’t been able to safely leave their homes or afford their medications.
A patient with heart failure could not afford one of their critical medications. He was going to the cardiologist office every 2-3 weeks to get samples. His Tria Health pharmacist was able to sign him up for a manufacturer coupon at an affordable copay. Tria Health also had the prescription sent to a pharmacy with a drive through pick up to allow for appropriate social distancing for this high-risk individual.
Getting Diagnosed with COVID-19
If you have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, it is important to take proper precautions to protect yourself and those around you. To learn the steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick, click here.
A patient called the Tria Health Help Desk with questions and wanting information regarding their recent diagnosis of COVID-19. Tria helped educate the patient with quarantine recommendations, along with encouragement to keep a temperature log. If the patient started having breathing issues, they were instructed to go to the emergency room and to call ahead before going. Simply talking to a Tria Health pharmacist and having them provide a detailed overview of next steps helped put the patient at ease.
While it’s important to continue your current treatment regimen to effectively control your conditions, now might be a great opportunity to instill some healthy habits.
During a smoking consult, a patient was struggling with anxiety and feeling completely out of control with the pandemic. She was not seeing any progress with quitting and was starting to feel down on herself. Tria’s pharmacist worked with the patient to refocus her efforts and make a list of things holding her back. During a follow up consult, the patient had cleaned out her smoking area, found new healthy habits, and started organizing her day. In addition, the patient is wearing a mask more often, which was also keeping her from smoking. Due to the support from the Tria Health pharmacist, the patient now has a happy place to enjoy the sunshine and her daughter.
As those with the ability to work from home have probably learned, it’s a lot different than going into the office. Although production and availability can increase, separating work from home can get more complicated. If you don’t use available resources early, it can only get worse. Those working from home for the first time have probably noticed how much verbal communication plays a role in the office and how productivity works throughout the week. Asking a question by peeping your head over the cubicle or walking down the hall is no longer that simple. It can be if you stay up to date on communication software and available technology your employers employ. But just having them downloaded to your computer and phone doesn’t solve all communication problems. Doing a quick Google search about the program can give you articles, tutorials, and videos to help improve your work-flow ability. Transitioning to working from home can be difficult and takes time to understand your schedule while managing all the other distractions around you at home.
Now more than ever it is essential to listen to your body and keep up with or even start those healthy routines. Just because you’re in the comfort of your home doesn’t make anything simpler, it can sometimes make things more complicated. All those times you walk around to ask questions, pick a paper up off the printer, grab a snack from the kitchen or get up to move in general you’re not doing anymore while being stuck behind that screen. It’s easy to get busy so don’t forget to move around throughout the day. Adding some sunshine will even help boost your mood and productivity. Taking some time at your desk to stretch and re-group in between meetings or projects can help create a transition too.
Monitoring your mental health during this time is just as important as physical health. Everyone has had to make drastic changes to their everyday life and its crucial to recognize those and work through the struggles that can arise. For those prone to anxiety and depression it’s important to recognize your feelings and work through them in ways that have worked in the past, such as reading, staying connected or even remote therapy.1 Being aware of your mood and behavior throughout this time will be valuable to your working from home experience. Always be mindful and reach out to the appropriate people if necessary.
Tips & Tricks
Create a designated workspace to ensure the separation of work and home.
Avoid being stuck in the same chair all day. Take the dogs for a walk, check the mail, or take a call outside, just try your best not to get cabin fever.
Overcommunicate with everyone and never feel like you’re asking a ‘dumb’ question.
Create a routine for before, during, and after work to hold yourself accountable.
Block off time to handle things that may be distracting to you and/or your work (i.e. kids and homework schedules, etc.)
Take advantage of this time at home. This may be the only time you get to work from home so throw that load of laundry in at lunch. Eat lunch with your quarantine crew while you have the chance.
Do what’s best for you!
If you have a chronic condition, these changes may be having a bigger impact on you and staying healthy is more important than ever. While the transition from the office to home may seem simple, you need to establish a routine to ensure you’re effectively managing your health. If you have any questions related to your condition management or medications, call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742. Tria Health is a no cost benefit provided through select health plans.
Unfortunately, with the spread of Coronavirus, the spread of misinformation has increased. It’s understandable to have anxiety with this current climate, but it’s also important to look to validated resources when searching for answers. One common claim we’ve seen spread as of late, is regarding the use of ibuprofen (NSAID) and having COVID-19.
Is It Dangerous to Take Ibuprofen to Treat COVID-19?
Both the World Health Organization and the FDA are currently unaware of existing evidence connecting the use of NSAIDS (Ibuprofen) with worsening COVID-19 symptoms. The FDA will continue to investigate the issue and report their findings when available.2 If patients are concerned, but require NSAIDs to manage their conditions, we recommend speaking with a health care provider and identify a possible alternative.2 While NSAIDs are not reported to worsen COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to note that they do reduce inflammation and fever, which may diminish the utility of diagnostic signs in detecting infections.
What’s the Current Verdict? Overall, no direct recommendation for use of NSAIDs for COVID-19 symptoms until more evidence becomes available.2
Tria Health’s Pharmacists can Answer Your Questions
Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s pharmacists are here to talk with patients about their risk factors for COVID-19 and ways they can mitigate risk. We are here to support all our members in their time of need. If you have any medication or COVID-19 related questions, please call our help desk at 1.888.799.874
For those categorized as high-risk of contracting COVID-19, it’s important to take all precautions when staying healthy and getting prepared. Those with higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 are, older adults 65+, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency, etc.).1
To reduce the risk of contracting illness, take precautions such as stocking up on supplies, staying home if you can, and most importantly practice social distancing. Some supplies to keep in the household are, enough groceries to last you a few weeks, cleaning supplies, personal care products and extra medications (contact your healthcare provider to discuss options). Preventative actions such as washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching facial areas, especially nose eyes and mouth, don’t shake hands and avoid non-essential travel. If COVID-19 reaches your community consider new ways to distance yourself between other people, such as having food and grocery items delivered instead of leaving the house.1
Remember not to overstock and deplete resources from your surrounding community. Take only what you really need.
Have a Plan
If you fall under the high-risk category, it is important to have a plan if you contract COVID-19. First, consulting with your health care provider is the most important. Make sure to have an idea of where to go and what to do if you start showing symptoms. Also stay in touch with friends, family, and neighbors in case you need to ask for help. If you start showing symptoms, stay home and call your doctor, they will help take care of you and determine whether you can begin recovering from home or need emergency help.2 Seek medical attention immediately if you show any of the symptoms in the box below. With the spread of COVID-19 happening quickly its important to stay updated on your community news and take extra precautions if it reaches your area, especially if you are high-risk. Unfortunately, we know that having a chronic health condition can increase a patient’s risk. We are here to support all our members in their time of need. Tria Health’s pharmacists are here to talk with patients about their risk factors and ways they can mitigate risk. Members, please know you can call our help desk at 1.888.799.874.