(Last Updated On: April 11, 2018)

Chat Benefits Patients During Severe Flu Season

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Chat Offers Welcome Alternative to In-Office Visits During Brutal Flu Season

When the yearly flu vaccine cannot compete with the dominant strains of the flu, incredibly high numbers of individuals come down with various forms of influenza. It’s important to realize that some of this flu spread occurs directly within doctor’s offices, despite precautions that offices take. The flu requires vigilance and quarantining in order to truly curb its spread, and HIPAA-compliant chat can be a major method for giving medical information without increasing the risk of the flu spreading.

The Aggressive Flu of 2017-2018

After the flu season began in the fall of 2017, doctors, other medical professionals, and hospital networks began to notice that the rates of flu-like symptoms were astronomical. By February, according to Fortune, 4000 Americans were dying of influenza per week and the number of cases were as high as the 2009 swine flu epidemic.

These statistics form a healthcare provider’s nightmare: after careful preparation and stocking of a flu shot, the people in their care are still getting sick and sometimes dying. With complications like pneumonia possible and likely, many otherwise able-bodied adults choose to try to soldier through their illness without rest, which is resulting in more deaths among the typically hardiest segment of the population. Since the flu has sent more people to the hospital than in any recent years according to The Hill, hospitals are strained to be able to care for everyone who is in need of medical care while still providing all their typical kinds of care.

In addition to being especially virulent, the flu can sometimes linger in populations for longer than the typical 16-week flu season. According to the NY Times, the spike in cases and hospitalizations has been precipitously higher than other years, especially at the end of January and beginning of February. All of these factors remind hospitals and medical providers that illnesses can be unpredictable and flexible systems are essential to be able to cope with this uncertainty.

One way that new cases of flu-like illness are being treated now is through chat solutions that allow sick patients to reach a doctor or nurse directly from the provider’s website. Doctors and nurses can evaluate the state of the patient via a real-time chat conversation before giving advice and transmitting electronic prescriptions through to the patient’s pharmacy.

Advantages of HIPAA-Compliant Chat

When aiding those who need medical care for flu symptoms, it is often best for them to rest, drink fluids, and perhaps take a medication like Tamiflu. Getting these simple items taken care of can be the difference between a few sick days and a serious medical complication, like a pneumonia infection.

These life-giving, simple treatments are all items that can be explained and prescribed via HIPAA-compliant chat services online. Telemedicine delivers valuable care for mildly to moderately ill people who will, in the end, only visit the doctor’s office to verify their flu symptoms and receive a medication prescription. If flu victims can stay home, rest, and have someone who is well fetch their medicine, the risk of others becoming infected goes down dramatically.

Even intake procedures can be done on a computer without making someone take a trip to the doctor’s office. Live chat features can provide the rigorous security required to protect medical information by the HIPAA laws while scaling to the amount of clients that a particular healthcare provider needs. Features like live chat allow offices to minimize wasted downtime while maximizing their total patients treated and healed, all in the context of a personalized solution that fits with their particular demographics.

Severe Flu Cases Benefit from Chat, Too

You may be wondering whether live chat is helpful in more critical flu cases. After all, the most severe flu cases require constant monitoring and attention from doctors, and there have been substantially more hospitalizations from the flu this year than in an average year of the flu season. These patients need to be seen quickly by a doctor, given life-saving treatment, and receive treatment if flu leaves them susceptible to other complications and illnesses.

The existence of HIPAA-compliant live chat is actually helpful even for these cases. When someone with severe symptoms goes to the doctor or hospital, they often face enormous lines of others who need help or they have trouble getting an appointment. With live chat, the line time goes down: after all, more mild cases will be seen quickly and easily by whichever nurse or doctor on the line can take some quick time to greet them, without them ever having to wait in a germ-filled waiting room.

These time-saving solutions make it possible for severe symptom cases to be seen more promptly in person. If someone isn’t sure about their symptoms, they can save money and time by using live chat first, and a doctor or nurse can quickly determine if their case merits a visit to the office or hospital. This means that the entire system flows better if mild cases are quickly resolved with online chats rather than office visits.

End of this Road, Preparation for the Next

Many doctors and hospitals are breathing a heavy sigh of relief as the CDC declared that cases and deaths from flu have eased in recent weeks. However, on the heels of this good news come the worries: how to make sure that offices and hospitals are prepared when a new widespread illness brings many contagious people to the office waiting room? Forward-thinking doctors and nurses are choosing to incorporate a live chat telehealth component because they know that it can save lives.

When people with compromised immune systems visit the doctor, it is to their benefit if only a few others are there at a given time, with most contagious but non-severe illnesses contained at home in a form of self-quarantine.

Not only does telemedicine allow people to recuperate with a minimum of disruption, they also keep more severely ill people out of contact with their viruses. The flu varies in its levels of virulence, but medical professionals are more equipped to stop its spread when HIPAA-compliant chat services are offered. 

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