Spillover Effects of COVID-19 on Essential Chronic Care and Ways to Foster Health System Resilience to Support Vulnerable Non-COVID Patients: A Multistakeholder Study.
OBJECTIVES: Little empirical research exists on how key stakeholders involved in the provision of care for chronic conditions and policy planning perceive the indirect or "spillover" effects of the COVID-19 on non-COVID patients. This study aims to explore stakeholder experiences and perspectives of the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of care for chronic conditions, evolving modalities of care, and stakeholder suggestions for improving health system resilience to prepare for future pandemics. DESIGN: Qualitative study design. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: This study was conducted during and after the COVID-19 lockdown period in Singapore. We recruited a purposive sample of 51 stakeholders involved in care of non-COVID patients and/or policy planning for chronic disease management. They included health care professionals (micro-level), hospital management officers (meso-level), and government officials (macro-level). METHODS: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted. All interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed. RESULTS: Optimal provision of care for chronic diseases may be compromised through the following processes: lack of "direct" communication between colleagues on clinical cases resulting in rescheduling of patient visits; uncertainty in diagnostic decisions due to protocol revision and lab closure; and limited preparedness to handle non-COVID patients' emotional reactions. Although various digital innovations enhanced access to care, a digital divide exists due to uneven digital literacy and perceived data security risks, thereby hampering wider implementation. To build health system resilience, stakeholders suggested the need to integrate digital care into the information technology ecosystem, develop strategic public-private partnerships for chronic disease management, and give equal attention to the provision of holistic psychosocial and community support for vulnerable non-COVID patients. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Findings highlight that strategies to deliver quality chronic care for non-COVID patients in times of public health crisis should include innovative care practices and institutional reconfiguration within the broader health system context.
Yoon, S; Goh, H; Chan, A; Malhotra, R; Visaria, A; Matchar, D; Lum, E; Seng, B; Ramakrishnan, C; Quah, S; Koh, MS; Tiew, PY; Bee, YM; Abdullah, H; Nadarajan, GD; Graves, N; Jafar, T; Ong, MEH
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