This is the next installment of our blog series,“The Top Five Reasons People Call the Nurse Advice Line.” Read our introductory blog post, the article on the fifth most common reason why people call in, fevers and chills, the fourth reason people call our Nurse Advice Line, urinary problems, or the third reason for calling, respiratory problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented time, so it’s no wonder our analysis found it to be the second most common reason people called Health Dialog’s Nurse Advice Line between April 2021 and March 2022. With all of the uncertainty, continually changing regulations and guidelines, and varied symptoms, people often didn’t know what to do and needed medical advice without having to leave their homes and risk exposure to themselves or others.
COVID is part of a larger group of viruses known as coronavirus, which includes things like the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), but this was a new type that had not been seen before. While we’ve made progress in understanding the virus and have developed vaccines and treatments, people still have an array of questions:
- What do I do if I’ve been exposed, but don’t have symptoms?
- What do I do if I’ve been exposed, but am vaccinated?
- What do I do if I’ve been exposed, but I’ve had COVID?
- My symptoms are mild, but should I seek treatment so it doesn’t get worse?
- How do I know if my symptoms are COVID?
Symptoms are often similar to the cold and flu and can be hard to tell apart. While for many, symptoms are mild or even non-existent, for some, it can be severe, leading to hospitalization or even death. Still others have long-term health complications. A 24/7 nurse advice line can help people know how to proceed, no matter the degree of symptoms. By getting answers to questions any time, day or night, without leaving home, it can limit the spread to other people, control absenteeism and reduce healthcare costs.
Helping a Member Get COVID Care
A 35-year-old member called our Nurse Advice Line and explained that they were experiencing severe chest pain and fatigue and were concerned that it could be COVID. The Health Coach reviewed the member’s past medical history and specific symptoms and determined that the member should seek medical care within the next hour. The Health Coach also helped the member find a facility nearby that was covered by insurance.
On a follow-up call, the member said that they went to the emergency department and was diagnosed with COVID. Thankfully, a chest x-ray was found to be clear and the member’s oxygen saturations were within normal limits. The member was told to go home and monitor oxygen saturations and watch for consistent or worsening chest pains. The Health Coach reviewed home treatments, as well as what symptoms to monitor for that would warrant a need for additional care and explained that the member could follow up with the Nurse Advice Line anytime.
With the potential for severe cases of COVID leading to hospitalization, it was important for this member, who was experiencing chest pain, to be seen right away in order to prevent additional health complications and costs. Having the Nurse Advice Line gave this member peace of mind and direction during a difficult time.
While life is getting back to a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy, COVID continues to be a concern and raises questions for many people. Providing members with a 24/7 nurse advice line ensures that they can get the answers and care they need. This can help prevent spread to others and limit healthcare costs.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained within this article are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.