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6 Free resources Physicians can use to educate patients about COVID-19
As a physician you’re likely receiving an increase in COVID-19 and coronavirus-related inquiries. The internet has made it incredibly easy for patients to find information about symptoms and ways to prevent the spread of the disease, but there’s a lot of rumors, conspiracy theories, and false information too.
You may not have the time or personal bandwidth to respond to all the social media posts, phone calls, and voicemails, but you can provide your clients with valuable resources that come from reputable sources. There are dozens of options to choose from, but we’ve compiled a handful of resources to make the process even easier.
1. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Much of the current news coverage revolves around the physical toll COVID-19 has on a patient’s respiratory system, brain, and overall quality of life, but the pandemic has major implications for mental health and well-being too. A growing number of Americans report feelings of depression and anxiety as a result of the “shelter in place orders” and the shift to social distancing. NAMI’s created a helpful guide that provides helpful insights on managing stress and anxiety, dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation, and information for people who don’t have health insurance or a primary care physician. You can access the guide by clicking here.
2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The team of medical professionals and scientific experts at the CDC are working to both stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and keep patients informed. Every week, the CDC’s web team adds to the list of frequently asked questions, covering everything from symptoms and testing, tips for lowering the risk of exposure, COVID-19 and funerals, and how the virus affects pets like cats and dogs. To access the answers to these questions and other virus-related information, click here.
3. The World Health Organization (WHO). Many Americans are worried about their risk of catching COVID-19. The WHO does an excellent job of breaking down this likelihood, explaining that although the risk is still relatively low, it’s becoming increasingly risky in certain areas of the country, particularly in hotspots like New York City, New Orleans, and New Jersey. If you have patients who travel regularly for work or are on the frontlines of the outbreak, this FAQ provides helpful insights that can preserve their health and well-being.
4. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The AAFP and FamilyDoctor.org have joined forces to provide several helpful resources for patients of all ages, free of charge. Some of the pages that are particularly helpful include handwashing and COVID-19, hand sanitizers and COVID-19, COVID-19: Top 10 Tips from Your Family Physician, and COVID-19 Facemasks. There are also resources specifically for individuals who smoke or vape. Because COVID-19 affects the respiratory system, many physicians are encouraging their patients to quit sooner rather than later. You can access all of AAFP’s COVID-19 clinical resources by clicking here.
5. Castlight’s COVID-19 Test Site Finder. The federal government has been slow to roll out COVID-19 testing in masse, but it’s becoming increasingly accessible. If you have patients contacting you about where or how to get tested, point them to Castlight’s online COVID-19 Test Site Finder. The tool is completely free and provides information about the nearest testing location based on an individual’s zip code. The website also has a COVID-19 symptoms self-assessment tool and provides a step-by-step guide for what people should do if they suspect that they’re infected.
6. The Society for Health Communication. This resource isn’t for patients as much as it is for you, the medical provider. Scientists and researchers are learning new things about the novel coronavirus every day, and information is constantly changing. Much of the news coverage is fear-based and focusing on death tolls and infection rates. Although this information is important, it can leave your patients feeling panicked and unsure what to do. Fortunately, you can help alleviate fears by communicating in a calm, level-headed manner. The Society for Health Communication recommends using plain language, being accurate and honest, expressing empathy, and staying positive. You don’t need to minimize the severity of what’s happening, but adjusting your presentation on social media, online, or in person can make all the difference.
By utilizing these and other free online sources, you can educate and inform your patients and help them navigate these challenging, unprecedented times.