How do you use this technology to continue servicing your patients, without direct contact with them? Fortunately, it has become common to use applications such as Facetime or Skype to communicate with family members scattered throughout the nation. Grandparents, in particular, need to become familiar with FaceTime if they ever want to speak to their grandkids.
“Moving forward, all patient advocates, whether solo practitioners or larger organizations, should seriously consider virtual support as an option. Not only does this allow the patient advocate to continue servicing clients in this current, chaotic environment, it will allow them to be more productive.”
Zoom has become a well-accepted video conferencing application for many businesses and is particularly well suited for patient advocates. The standard free version of Zoom is not advertised as HIPAA compliant, you need to pay for that, but it is probably okay under the current relaxed rules described above. The reason Zoom works well is that it is easy for even a novice user to set up a multi-party conversation, where everyone can see other participants and interact freely without having direct contact.
A recent example of how we used Zoom just this week involved a client based in Missouri, requiring assistance for his mother, who has been health compromised due to recent hospitalization and sepsis infection.
The 62 year old patient lives in rural WI, with 5 adult kids in Minneapolis and Chicago. Kids had set up a tag-team in an effort to have a 24/7 presence at mom’s house, which they could see within a week this was not sustainable. The original plan was to travel to the home of the mother for intake, with the accompaniment one of our nurse advocates, and bring her son in on a telephone call. We would then assess the situation, develop a care plan, and execute the plan with appropriate advocacy support.
Normally, this would have routinely happened in the patient’s living room – standard operating procedure prior to the onset of the pandemic. However, in this case, our nurse advocate
had recently returned from a visit to one of the West Coast hotspots and was on her final day of self-quarantine.
We set up Zoom for all participants and we were able to do the intake virtually. We discovered, in the intake, that mom was severely compromised due to co-morbidities and was not in a safe environment, as her spouse was not practicing safe procedures recommended for this pandemic. We were further able, in this virtual session, to identify another family member who would assume care for the mother in their home in IL and arrange transportation through another family member to get her there within a few hours.
All of this was done virtually and successfully.