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Apr 23, 2020
Transitioning to Telehealth Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Samyra Sealy is physician who provides primary home health care for chronically ill patients who have challenges leaving their residence to access health care and services. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced her, and so many other physicians, to rely more on technology than before. As part of Cigna’s deployment of hundreds of on-staff clinicians, including physicians and nurse practitioners, to MDLIVE, a leading telehealth company and Cigna network partner, she and her team at Alegis Care® have successfully transitioned their care delivery to see their patients in their homes – virtually.

1. How has your experience been during this time?

This has been a challenging time. But it has given us many opportunities to be creative, think outside of the box and adapt our existing tools and workflows to continue to serve our chronically ill and vulnerable patients. We strive for personal connection, and believe it’s is key to keeping our patients healthy, so we’re thankful that technology has allowed us to continue to have that.

2. Do you approach a telehealth appointment differently than an in-person appointment? What are the challenges?

In some ways you have to approach it differently because the challenge is not being able to touch or sometimes even visualize the patient. You have to rely on the patient to give you detailed descriptions of what they are experiencing. Even more importantly, you have to be ready and able to do even more education with the patient, to not only explain treatment plans, but also to guide them through parts of the examination that you may need them to do themselves to assist with diagnosing conditions.

3. Are there questions that you hear more often than others?

Many patients have been asking for my opinion about the current pandemic and potential risks to them. I think this speaks to the anxiety that the current medical situation has caused in the community, but also speaks to the importance of continuing to connect with our patients during this period through whatever avenues are available as they trust us, and value our medical opinion and judgement.

4. How can someone be best prepared for their telehealth appointment?

It is important to continue to incorporate all the best practices from a successful in-person visit, including comprehensive medication reconciliation and monitoring of adherence, and review of interim care.

To assist with this, a patient should have an updated medication list to review with their provider, as well as any monitoring devices that the patient may have available at home – such as a blood pressure cuff or a glucometer.

5. What’s your advice for customers who are deciding if they should use telehealth?

I would recommend just giving it a try as you will likely find despite the physical distance between you and your provider, you will continue to receive the very best care from someone you know and trust.

6. What lessons do you think you’ll personally take away from this pandemic?

This has forced the medical community to reevaluate the role of technology in health care as we become more dependent on technology in our everyday lives.  It has also reinforced the importance of staying connected, even from afar. Personally, this pandemic has compelled me to take a step back and slow down, connect with people on a deeper level, focus on relationships that matter, and good self-care.    

For additional information and resources about Cigna's response to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center.

Alegis Care a business of CareAllies, offers a complete, in-home population health and clinical services solution with unparalleled access to care for patients who need additional support – especially those with chronic conditions. CareAllies is a Cigna company.