How COVID-19 can improve care for patients with autoimmune diseases

It can be hard to focus on the positive outcomes when you’re confronted with the COVID-19 data everyday. You can see Tableau’s Data Resource Hub for Coronavirus (COVID-19) below, which is updated daily.

If you are reading this and concerned you might have COVID-19, you can self-assess with this helpful chatbot at home.

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The truth is there’s no going back after COVID-19. Our lives will be permanently changed from this pandemic.

Here are 3 benefits to come out of the COVID-19 crisis for the autoimmune and chronic illness community.

1. Telehealth and virtual care visits

In the past few weeks I’ve had my first virtual care visits with my rheumatologist and urologist. I love it! I don’t lose precious work time or struggle to find child care at the last minute for multiple doctors’ appointments. Instead of driving at least half an hour one way, I can talk to my specialists face-to-face at home.

While telehealth isn’t necessarily new in healthcare, it wasn’t being fully utilized before COVID-19. Now that it’s being used by more providers and facilities, I’m sure we’ll see more incentives for the widespread use of telehealth.

2. More tests and lab work from home

As testing for COVID-19 becomes available to the general public, I suspect we’ll see more tests you can take at home. These tests won’t just be for COVID-19, either.

As an example, I currently use the Litholink test at home. They send me all the packaging and items I need to complete the test and then ship it directly from home. FedEx picks it up from my doorstep. This test is helpful for determining if I’m at higher risk for producing kidney stones based on my dietary intake. It’s how I discovered I have distal renal tubular acidosis caused by Sjögren’s.

3. Greater awareness of drugs to treat autoimmune diseases

It sucks that the autoimmune community is currently facing medication shortages. It also sucks that hydroxychloroquine and other autoimmune drugs like Plaquenil are not actually helpful in treating COVID-19. We need to find a way to successfully treat COVID-19 and fast. That said, I think the media’s attention on these drugs is only making a stronger case for greater support in our community. Perhaps it will lead to more research on similar pharmaceutical ingredients and more treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s, and more.

You can read more about the awesome technology and healthcare initiatives that are happening right now as we tackle the COVID-19 crisis. I think these innovations will be able to improve healthcare for everyone in the long-term, especially those of us who suffer from chronic illness and autoimmune diseases.

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