COVID or Allergies? Addressing Patient Fears During the Pandemic
Posted by Paolo Gabriel Demillo
The coronavirus continues to threaten lives, and it’s long since changed how we think about anything as simple as a cough or a runny nose. With the fall allergy season in full swing, anxiety over the pandemic is joining with confusion and uncertainty regarding seasonal allergies.
While there are vital differences between COVID-19 and allergy symptoms, some still overlap, making it difficult for most patients to tell them apart. That, paired with continued delays in COVID testing, is leaving people in limbo. It fuels anxiety or leads patients to be complacent and downplay their symptoms, putting everyone around them at risk. When uncertainty could have grave consequences, screening patients and keeping them informed is more crucial now than ever.
A Responsibility for Patient Education
With people on edge every time they have to blow their nose this allergy season, the overabundance of misleading and inaccurate information online is only making matters worse. One of the best ways to counter that is to post your own fact-based content.
Your patients look to you as a reliable source of information. Therefore, you have a crucial opportunity to engage and educate them about the facts surrounding COVID-19 versus seasonal allergies.
Whether it’s through social media, a blog, email blasts, or your practice website, raising awareness and keeping your patients updated with the right information puts their worries to rest and makes them cautious rather than anxious.
The Advantages of Mobile and Online Tools
Any patient who comes in exhibiting symptoms common in both COVID and allergies will naturally have to be isolated and prescribed the right kind of shots, tests, and treatment. To safely identify these patients, though, you can rely heavily on online and mobile technology.
Tools like patient apps and portals will help extend your practice’s reach while minimizing risks. Rather than having patients fill out paperwork at your clinic, for example, you can make it a prerequisite when they book an appointment. It will allow you to safely collect the necessary details to quickly identify and isolate those with COVID-19 symptoms.
Now is also the best time to take full advantage of Telehealth technology as a way to continue seeing patients while in-office appointments still carry an element of danger.
Online and mobile tools will continue to play a critical role in keeping patients and practices safe. Not only do they help increase patient engagement and practice efficiency, but they also eliminate the need for face-to-face interactions.
Keeping a Distance Is Still Key
Social distancing remains the most effective way to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus. That’s why it’s essential to provide both your patients and your staff the right tools that help minimize their exposure to health risks.
Beyond protecting people, it will also go a long way to calming your patient’s fears. No one wants to be responsible for passing the virus on to someone else. Even when patients are only suffering from allergies, the peace of mind your practice can provide with remote options will make all the difference.
Throughout the pandemic, fear and uncertainty have become a constant in patient’s lives. Taking the extra steps to help educate them and keep that fear in check while proactively protecting your patients and your practice will make the fall allergy season smoother for everyone.