How doctors and healthcare systems can help reduce fear generated by COVID 19

How doctors and healthcare systems can help reduce fear generated by COVID 19

The fear of  COVID-19 has heightened anxiety, depressions, fatigue, burnout, and stress in people; as the uncertainty of the future and the possibility of contracting the virus grows. Healthcare systems and doctors must develop methods of care to alleviate these issues in the community.

With over 3 million cases of COVID-19 and 140,000 deaths in the U.S, the stress of social distancing, isolation, and high chances of contracting COVID-19 has left many with fears and anxiety. This includes the increasing number of new information and misinformation about the virus.

To protect themselves from COVID 19, many are avoiding large gatherings and canceling their medical appointments; delaying treatment for non-COVID 19 related-issues i.e. nonevasive or elective procedures, hip replacements.

There are many hospital systems that have implemented safety measures including virtual resources and call centers hoping individuals will practice social distancing, understand COVID 19, and reduce anxiety and stress.

Here ways for doctors and health systems can reduce the fear generated by COVID-19 among the population.

Create a Digital Information Center 

Hospital systems can develop a City-wide informational site and accurate COVID-19 information or create weekly Q&A’s where doctor’s list and share new information about the pandemic and how the public can help.

It’s important for hospital systems and doctors to have space where they accurately inform the public about COVID 19. This includes explaining what COVID 19 is, how they can (continue) to protect themselves, and ways to stay on top of their health

Misinformation and overflow of information with added uncertainties can exacerbate the issue.  Some hospital systems and doctors have resources pages that explain COVID-19, include safety measures, and mental health-focused activities.

As part of their initiative to keep patients informed Northwell Health has a Digital Resource center which includes resources on facts and support care articles and activities.

Other resources include:

For hospitals with questions of their own: HHS has set an email address for hospital-specific COVID-19 questions.

Sharing Facility Protocols and Procedures

As mentioned, individuals may still be wary of going to appointments or doctors in fear of getting COVID 19. 

So how can bring individuals to hospitals, reduce risk and anxiety?

 To ensure that the population knows it’s safe, to visit facilities and meet doctors for appointments. Posting protocols and informing the public on your safety measures can alleviate stress before patients enter facilities.

  • Showing  visual alerts i.e  posters of how they and the facility can keep each other safe “through washing hands” and “mask-wearing”
  • Explaining  the screening process before and during visits i.e ensure access to treatment options and slow the spread of the virus
  • Showing population how the staff is keeping facility sanitized and protocols for safety measures
  • Explaining practices for the facility if there is a COVID 19 case in the facility, including what staff may do i.e Emergency Operations Center,  mobilize personnel and supplies as needed, to protect patients and team members

Doctors and healthcare systems must become more transparent during stressful situations. By engaging the public and developing a plan where they communicate the importance of seeking assistance, doctors can decrease patient delayed care and COVID 19 fears. 

Some systems have developed PSA video to explain the virus, protocols, and the importance of seeking assistance.  By developing visuals and sharing facility protocols, healthcare systems and doctors allow patients to visualize their “return to care.”

Staying Virtually Connected

Healthcare systems and doctor’s offices are utilizing virtual platforms to stay connected and reduce patient fear of COVID 19. Many have implemented telemedicine and home monitoring systems to support both COVID 19 positive patients and the public.

By staying virtually connected, healthcare systems can ease the fear of potential COVID 19 infections. For example, a patient with underlying medical conditions can safely interact with their doctor through a virtual platform without leaving the comfort of their home; this decreases their chances of infection and delayed care.

Healthcare systems can develop a communication plan that includes a virtual Townhall where they connect with community leaders about the concerns of individuals in the community.  They can use this time to answer questions and post it as part of their 

  • Geisinger Health System, based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, launched a coronavirus home monitoring program in May to monitor COVID patients from home, reduce transmission, and ease patient anxiety and worries.
  • Developing virtual services not only for patient physical care, mental, such as Virtual Behavioral Health: an app that allows individuals  to connect with counselors and psychologists

Home monitoring enables COVID positive and negative individuals to receive more care. Some healthcare systems and companies have developed a smart patch, can measure body temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate. By developing alternative methods, such as virtual meetings or town halls, doctors, and healthcare systems can share information to alleviate stress and ensure patient safety.

Do you know some ways doctors and healthcare systems can alleviate fear generated by COVID 19? Tell us in the comment section.

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About the author

Joycelyn Ghansah

Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.

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