Sponsored by United Healthcare
As we continue to navigate the deep impact of COVID-19, one thing seems certain—the pandemic has changed the way many of us have traditionally viewed and engaged with the health care system. Many times, a crisis creates an urgency to ramp up innovations to meet consumer demands while also providing convenience. COVID-19 has led to a few emerging trends that may usher in permanent changes to the ways we access health care.
COVID-19 has changed several aspects of health care, some for the better. These trends can help increase flexibility, convenience and access and may help more people get the care they need to live healthier lives. To help answer your questions about COVID-19 and connect you to the resources that may help support you during this time, visit uhc.com/COVID.
A doctor’s visit from the comfort of your home. Using a phone, tablet or a computer, the provider can answer questions, evaluate your symptoms and provide a diagnosis or support. Many health insurance agencies have encouraged the use of virtual visits during the pandemic when many Americans couldn’t visit health care facilities in person. The push toward contactless care is likely to continue through virtual appointments in primary care, urgent care, disease management and behavioral health. Even specialty care is leveraging telehealth through prenatal visits, and more recently UnitedHealthcare has made physical, occupational and speech therapies available.
The pandemic response has created momentum around patients with chronic illnesses receiving care at home. Managed by a care team with remote tools like continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and activity trackers, UnitedHealthcare members can sync their devices to track progress, check their health data in real time, and send and receive messages with a nurse care coach or doctor.
Home infusion services can reduce the risk of public exposure, especially during COVID-19. Typically, a nurse will come to the home and train the patient or caregiver on how to administer medication, provide information on how the drug should work, and warn of any side effects that may occur. We could eventually see more oncology care being moved to the comfort of the home. This would be especially beneficial for patients who are immunocompromised and still need treatment.
The role of a pharmacist is changing. Similar to telehealth and home-based care, there’s an evolving definition of what a pharmacist can do. Pharmacists play an important role beyond medication management in a care team. When doctor’s offices were closed or not available, some pharmacists filled a gap in care. Even before the crisis, some states had expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists. A few states have given pharmacists limited prescribing authority, and more than 800 pharmacists in the U.S. are board-certified in infectious diseases. Pharmacists are integrating more with behavioral health. In the near future, they may even be able to help individuals with medication adherence and screening for depression through some UnitedHealthcare pharmacies.
There’s a heightened awareness that cleanliness and hygiene practices can keep people healthier and avoid the spread of disease—expanding the notion of good health to include cleanliness of the things people interact with each day. Employers in the manufacturing, retail, hospitality and professional services industries face unique adjustments in adopting these new hygiene standards, as each worksite setting presents unique challenges that call for distinct strategies. If the momentum continues to shift toward greater health ownership, the pandemic has brought forth advances that could support this renewed focus on health and well-being.