Medical technology expert Richard Sorgnard discusses chronic disease management both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the United States, new COVID-19 infections have steadily declined as more people get vaccinated and/or develop natural immunity. Yet the impact of the pandemic will still be felt for years to come. Throughout the crisis, many people had to put treating other diseases and managing chronic conditions on hold. Medical expert Richard Sorgnard takes a look at how COVID-19 impacted chronic disease management and what it means going forward.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients avoided seeking medical care for chronic conditions, and in some cases, people were denied easy access to treatment,” Richard Sorgnard notes. “For example, chemotherapy treatment for cancer was, in some cases, delayed.”
Thankfully, cancer treatment and other forms of healthcare treatment are getting back on schedule. Still, when it comes to chronic conditions, day-in and day-out management are vital. Treatment delays over the past few years may cause issues well into the future.
Research published by the National Institutes of Health found that diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and hypertension were most impacted by the pandemic, at least as far as chronic conditions were concerned. During the pandemic, many doctors and patients had to put off face-to-face meetings, instead, relying on telecommunication.
“With chronic diseases, day-to-day management is often vital,” Richard Sorgnard says. “A patient suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes and who couldn’t access healthcare services as normal may face poorer outcomes. Diabetes and other chronic conditions can quickly worsen without proper daily care.”
In some cases, complications from diabetes can result in lost limbs and crippling symptoms, and medical problems. Data suggest that preventable limb amputations increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients delayed care and were sheltered in place.
Pandemic Highlights Importance of Smart Medical Devices
Fortunately, medical technology companies are working to make chronic diseases more manageable. Remote care options, for example, allow medical professionals to work with patients wherever they are. Smart devices, meanwhile, can help patients monitor and manage conditions.
“The pandemic is a harsh reminder of just how important it is to properly manage chronic diseases. And even as healthcare gets back to normal, it’s important for patients to manage chronic diseases at home,” Richard Sorgnard notes. “Improved medical technology and remote healthcare options should improve outcomes in the long run.”
Managing blood levels, for example, is a major challenge for patients with diabetes. While at-home blood tests have improved, many patients still benefit from oversight from medical professionals. Wearables now can measure blood sugar levels and even regulate insulin levels. Data collected by devices can be analyzed by medical professionals even if the patient doesn’t come into the office.
“Wearables and smart medical devices increase self-service when managing chronic diseases. COVID-19 laid bare just how important effective chronic disease management is,” Richard Sorgnard says, “but going forward, improving medical technologies will improve day-to-day management of chronic conditions.”