PHYSICIAN’S CORNER: NEJM “COVID-19 PRIMER – VIRTUAL PATIENT SIMULATION” (2020)

CLICK ON PATIENT BELOW TO LAUNCH “VIRTUAL PATIENT SIMULATION”

COMMENTARY

This interactive simulated case of Covid 19 (SARS CoV-2) is remarkable: a unique opportunity to stand in the shoes of a ER Doctor without any risk, except to our egos.

This is meant for doctors, but the intellectually curious  Guests of this site might enjoy the experience, especially Doctor Lisa Sanders fans.
The vocabulary is full Medical, and will give a foretaste of the words I will slowly be exploring. I believe that patients should not be intimidated by their lab reports.

I’ll start the vocabulary journey with FERRITIN which is a marker for IRON STORES in the body. You can have too much iron, which is dangerous (iron overload), in which case the ferritin is high.

There was a time when I had too little iron ( was anemic, with a hemoglobin of 8.6, and felt terrible) and my ferritin was low. I now check my ferritin every 6 months to make sure I am taking enough iron to offset my blood loss, which is another story I will tell when I start go through my medicine cabinet and discuss the Meds one at a time.

The reason for testing ferritin in our interactive Covid 19 case was because ferritin is markedly elevated in cases of inflammation/ infection. It is an “acute phase reactant”, and may reflect the “cytokines storm” that may be a contributor to the lethality of Covid 19.

There is another way to benefit from this simulation: the train-wreck of a patient serves as a cautionary tale of what you wish NOT to become. Our present medical profession is so DISEASE oriented. How much better if our society and our medical profession were HEALTH oriented instead.

—Dr. C.

CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: TRACING APPS, Antiviral remdesivir’S PROMISE

The Coronapod team pick through the latest news, plus we hear from the researchers making lemonade out of lockdown lemons.

In this episode:

01:10 Can contact-tracing apps help?

Governments around the world are banking on smartphone apps to help end the spread of the coronavirus. But how effective might these apps might be? What are the risks? And how should they fit into wider public health strategies?

Editorial: Show evidence that apps for COVID-19 contact-tracing are secure and effective

13:30 Antiviral remdesivir shows promise

Early results from a US trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir suggest it shortens recovery time for patients with COVID-19. We unpick the findings.

News: Hopes rise for coronavirus drug remdesivir

16:52 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including blooming trust in scientists, cooking experiments, and a neighbourhood coming together to clap for healthcare workers.

21:34 Unexpected opportunities

We hear from three researchers making the most of lockdown, studying tiny earthquakes, building balcony-based citizen science projects, or enlisting gamers to fight the coronavirus.

Fold-it, the protein-folding computer game

TELEMEDICINE: 80% OF PEDIATRIC PATIENTS SEEN REMOTELY AT JOHNS HOPKINS CHILDREN’S CENTER

From Johns Hopkins Medicine (April 30, 2020):

“A lot of our pediatric divisions are now seeing 80% or more of their patients by video or telephone,” says Hughes.

The Children’s Center’s preparations for the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, were unwittingly sparked by pediatrician Helen Hughes and her early work in telemedicine outreach for pediatric subspecialists. In 2018, she spearheaded development of a telemedicine collaboration with the Talbot County Health Department on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Pediatrician Helen Hughes during a video visit with a young patient and mom.. Johns Hopkins Medicine

The goal was to ease the burden of long treks to Johns Hopkins’ Baltimore campus for young patients — especially medically complex patients — for follow-up visits. At the time, she said, “This is where the future of health care is headed. Video technologies can allow us to do so many things for our patients without having to see them in person every time.”

The Children’s Center, notes Hughes, had been conducting between zero and eight video visits per month for the past two years. In the second half of March, after the coronavirus had clearly arrived, Johns Hopkins pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists saw 800 patients via telemedicine. That number increased to 1,400 telemedicine visits in the first half of April. Additionally, MyChart users in April jumped to 71%.

Read full article

TELEMEDICINE: “FORWARD TRIAGE” FOR SCREENING PATIENTS DURING COVID-19

 Direct-to-consumer (or on-demand) telemedicine, a 21st-century approach to forward triage that allows patients to be efficiently screened, is both patient-centered and conducive to self-quarantine, and it protects patients, clinicians, and the community from exposure.

Interview with Dr. Judd Hollander on how health systems can use telemedicine services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It can allow physicians and patients to communicate 24/7, using smartphones or webcam-enabled computers. Respiratory symptoms — which may be early signs of Covid-19 — are among the conditions most commonly evaluated with this approach. 

Health care providers can easily obtain detailed travel and exposure histories. Automated screening algorithms can be built into the intake process, and local epidemiologic information can be used to standardize screening and practice patterns across providers.

Disasters and pandemics pose unique challenges to health care delivery. Though telehealth will not solve them all, it’s well suited for scenarios in which infrastructure remains intact and clinicians are available to see patients. Payment and regulatory structures, state licensing, credentialing across hospitals, and program implementation all take time to work through, but health systems that have already invested in telemedicine are well positioned to ensure that patients with Covid-19 receive the care they need. In this instance, it may be a virtually perfect solution.

Read full article at NEJM

TELEMEDICINE: “THE MOST COMMON USES AND HIGHEST VALUE FOR PATIENTS”

Telehealth had been gaining momentum in recent years, but the COVID-19 pandemic is propelling physician practices to quickly figure out how they can best use the technology to provide patients with care while practicing physical distancing.

(From an AMA article -April 29, 2020)

COMMON USES FOR TELEHEALTH INCLUDE:

VIRTUAL HEALTH: “CHRONIC CARE MANAGEMENT” PROVES VALUE OF TELEMEDICINE

From a ComputerWorld article (April 27, 2020):

While the pandemic will prove the value of virtual care in a crisis, it will also demonstrate the effectiveness for ongoing chronic care management,” she said. “This moment will have a lasting effect on the adoption of virtual care and accelerate the shift from in-person care to virtual first engagement for multiple conditions and use cases.”

While the need for remote care will not be as acute once the pandemic crisis subsides, demand for telehealth systems will likely remain high. Forrester now expects more than one billion virtual care visits this year, the vast majority of them related to COVID-19.

“…After the crisis subsides, there will be a patient population that will want to continue to receive care online for some things, like managing chronic conditions, follow-up visits after an inpatient stay, surgery or to discuss diagnostic results,” she said.

In this case, it will be important for healthcare providers to ensure that patients are aware of the availability of services.

Read full article

TELEMEDICINE: STANFORD MEDICINE UTILIZES IPADS IN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

From a Stanford Medicine article (April 27, 2020):

“Far from separating us from our patients, it is actually expanding on what we can do,” said Ryan Ribeira, MD, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School.

An iPad in a patient room at Stanford Health Care’s emergency department. Photo by Susan Coppa

Caring for patients remotely greatly reduces the use of protective equipment — an estimated 80-120 sets per day. The risk of exposure has also been minimized for physicians, nurses and other caregivers, particularly those who are pregnant, immune-compromised or otherwise at high risk of complications from COVID-19. 

When the staff at Stanford Health Care’s Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department started connecting with patients in isolation via iPad, they found an unexpected benefit: The approach offered a more personal, human-centered experience. 

The iPad project moved from conception to implementation in just eight days, starting with a drive-through program in a Stanford Health Care garage: Patients remained in their cars while a physician assessed them by video from inside the emergency department. 

To bring the program into patient rooms, technology specialists at Stanford Health Care ensured the tablets had necessary features, such as the ability to auto-answer calls. When a caregiver calls to check in, the patient receives a few rings as advance notice, then the iPad answers itself. 

The iPad has also been paired with portable handheld ultrasound scanners that quickly plug in, eliminating the need for a bulky ultrasound cart that requires decontamination after every use. And patients participating in clinical research can consent via iPad.

Read full article

ENDOCRINOLOGY: BENEFITS OF TELEMEDICINE IN DIABETES MANAGEMENT

From an EndocrinologyAdvisor online article (April 27, 2020):

In the diabetes world where data from meter, pump, and sensor downloads are critical to management, telemedicine is an ideal way to interact with patients. The missing pieces are vital signs, especially blood pressure and weight, but often the patient can monitor these at home and provide trends. Diabetes experts can manage the majority of patients using the HbA1c test and other data the patient has recorded and downloaded to a website. These are easily accessible. I have had patients write down their glucose readings and fax the results as well.” Mark H. Schutta, MD, medical director of the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center

In perhaps one of the most significant changes to occur in health care as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, telemedicine has suddenly reached the widespread adoption many proponents have championed for years. Recognizing the necessity of telemedicine in light of the current crisis — both to address increased treatment needs and to prevent unnecessary in-person contact — some payors and state legislators have loosened certain restrictions regarding its use across clinical specialties.

Read full article

Empowering Patients Through Education And Telemedicine