How Technology is Assisting Those With Chronic Conditions Amidst COVID

October 16, 2020

How COVID-19 is affecting those specifically with chronic conditions and how technology is helping.

Having a chronic condition can be painful and exhausting under any circumstance. With the added stress of COVID-19 and its effects like job and financial uncertainty, it can be unbearable for someone with a complex chronic condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which affects more than 3 million people in the U.S..

Typically, traditional care models for managing chronic conditions don’t address patients’ emotional well-being – which can be a painful and costly mistake. Patients with IBD and a mental health comorbidity drive three to five times higher annual healthcare costs, according to Monique Fayad, CEO of Trellus Health.

Fayad explains how technology is helping patients in these situations, especially during times of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 brought telehealth and resilience to the forefront of care,” Fayad says. “It amplified the need for telehealth and resilience-driven care for IBD patients due to their immunocompromised conditions, and the fact (that) they already struggled with physically getting to appointments because of their condition. Increased stress and anxiety due to COVID heightened awareness of the importance of behavioral health and resilience, and helped the entire healthcare system and patients understand the need for resilience-driven, whole-person care to improve outcomes and quality of life.”

At Trellus Health, an organization that works by stratifying patients’ risk factors, identifying the patients who need the highest level of touch/care and coordinating a custom team to develop a personalized treatment plan, is providing services to patients especially in assistance of mental health and chronic condition needs.

Trellus achieves this approach through their comprehensive resilience-based program that utilizes a dedicated Trellus multidisciplinary care team (Trellus Triad). The team includes licensed nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, dietitians and psychologists who are all available via telehealth, leveraging the TrellusElevate platform for seamless coordination, communication and remote patient monitoring.

Fayad says the outcomes of those who aren’t receiving this form of whole-person-care leave many at risk.

“IBD is a chronic, lifelong, incurable disease normally diagnosed during adolescence and early adulthood,” she says. “The typical IBD patient journey covers many years and is fraught with misdiagnoses, lack of failed therapies, numerous ED visits, surgeries, and high rates of depression, anxiety, steroid misuse and opioid abuse.”

“By coordinating gold-standard clinical care through a network of “Trellus Certified” IBD experts, and providing dedicated multidisciplinary support to assess and build patient resilience, Trellus will reduce the typical patient journey from years to days, significantly improving patient outcomes and quality of life.”

This clinical and behavioral approach has been utilized by Co-Founders Marla Dubinsky and Laurie Keefer at the Susan and Leonard Feinstein IBD Clinical Center at Mount Sinai for over five year, Fayad says.

“Trellus’s goal is to provide a technology platform to scale the co-founders’ whole-person approach globally to all chronic disease patients.”

She adds all partners in care can benefit from Trellus Health’s innovative resilience-driven connected health solution. For example, insurers can better track and manage their chronic disease patient populations via the TrellusElevate platform and the Trellus multidisciplinary care team’s convenient telehealth interactions, to significantly improve outcomes while reducing costs.

Employers can improve the quality of care, outcomes and quality of life for their employees, while significantly reducing the costs of unplanned and inappropriate care, high cost biologic drug therapies, absenteeism and presenteeism.

Providers benefit in several ways as Trellus provides a free CME accredited online program to educate them about the latest evidence-based guidelines and therapies for IBD and the importance of addressing resilience and behavioral health for significantly improving outcomes.

“Resilience is a learned trait,” she says. “We are all born with resilience, but it can be weakened over time due to physical, social, psychological, and environmental circumstances and stressors. We have to stop our healthcare system’s reactive “sick-care” approach of only focusing on a patient’s disease by taking a whole-person approach to assess and build resilience.”