Addressing Spiking Conditions and Behaviors Like Smoking Amid COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic remains to leave challenges on our economies, well-beings and more. After a year of battling rising Covid-19 cases, other behavioral epidemics such as the tobacco, obesity and mental health epidemic seem to be sky-rocketing.

The Covid-19 pandemic remains to leave challenges on our economies, well-beings and more. After a year of battling rising Covid-19 cases, other behavioral epidemics such as the tobacco, obesity and mental health epidemic seem to be sky-rocketing.

Mary Langowski, CEO of Solera Health, says these conditions, in particular, are those her organization addresses. These conditions are some of the highest contributing factors for severe and life-threatening COVID-19 cases, and it’s critical they be addressed now.

“The CDC has repeatedly stated that underlying conditions have a major impact on survival outcomes for COVID-19 patients,” Langowski says. “Currently, 94% of all COVID-related deaths occurred with patients that had pre-existing health issues such as being overweight, diabetic, or having lung-damage from smoking.”

For example, the collision of the ongoing tobacco epidemic, the Covid-19 pandemic and the influenza “twindemic” has created new urgency around helping tobacco users quit, and smokers are taking note, she adds.

Conditions like smoking have shown to not only exacerbate flu symptoms, but also double the risk of contracting severe COVID-19. However, even though motivation to quit remains high, stress and depression are reaching historically high levels, leading people to double down on current tobacco use or pick-up old habits, she says.

In fact, data shows that stress from COVID-19 has caused a 30% increase in tobacco usage in adults. On the other hand, another study conducted in April 2020 suggested that concern about Covid-19 had increased quit attempts by as much as 500% compared to a typical month.

“It’s clear, anyone trying to quit tobacco needs more support than ever to get free from nicotine dependence or head off a relapse,” Langowski says.

At Solera Health they provide their clients evidence-based, lifestyle and behavioral, social intervention programs that focus on the most prevalent and costly chronic conditions. To do this Solera matches members and employees to their best-fit solutions based on their unique health goals, needs, and preferences through data and analytics.

The organization’s current solutions encompass weight management, stress, sleep, and resilience; tobacco cessation; social isolation; and fall prevention. Solera vets, contracts, and manages the vendor suite to guarantee quality solutions and lifestyle enhancement programs to their members. Once a member has enrolled, Solera acts as both partner and coach to encourage healthy practices and participation in the program. Serving as a ‘digital front door’ for many people entering the telehealth world, Solera connects users to pertinent information that allows them to choose the right solution for them at the right time.

Each person is matched with their program or solution through distinct personas and algorithms built from key data gathered through a member onboarding process, according to Langowski. Members could have one or a myriad of health problems they want to address. Designed as lifestyle, behavioral and social changes – not medical visits – patients engage with long-term health journeys that focus on diet, activity, behavior change, therapy, meditation, and companionship. These solutions meet key social, functional, and physical needs leading to members to get and stay healthy, she says.

Employers and payers who utilize Solera’s programs have had a significant impact on improved patient outcomes while decreasing ER visits and medical costs, Langowski adds.