The 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of people throughout the world. As the outbreak has spread at an alarming rate, several words and phrases have become synonymous with the crisis – “quarantine”, “self-isolation” and “social distancing.” All imply anti-social behavior, discouraging close contact, community and communication. Those with potential viral exposure or flu-like symptoms have been instructed to contact their local doctors but not to report to healthcare facilities, instead staying at home, self-isolating and avoiding contact with other family members. Patients with more severe symptoms with positive coronavirus tests are being isolated in intensive care units and other temporary hospital facilities.
Family members are not permitted to visit for obvious reasons. These special circumstances pose new challenges in how healthcare workers and patient families communicate, especially where strict HIPAA regulations mandate secure messaging to protect private patient information. The natural human reaction when loved ones are ill is to be close by in order to provide comfort and care, however we are being advised to remain at a distance during this outbreak. Even physicians and healthcare workers have to strike a delicate balance between patient contact and the risk of exposure to themselves and their families. Those patients self-treating in their homes may also require information and advice from their doctor.
Lack of communication is known to increase stress and anxiety. While the use telemedicine will allow physician to patient communication remotely and therefore reduce the risk of exposure to other patients, healthcare workers and the community at large, we must not forget the families of patients who may be in the dark while separated from the people they care about most.
The Vocera Ease application, is being leveraged during the Covid-19/Corona Virus pandemic to protect hospital staff, keep patients safe and aid in social distancing. Our platform allows hospitals to send one-way HIPAA compliant messages to the family of patients, keeping them updated, and offsite from the hospital.