Almost two years into the pandemic, non-COVID patients have started adapting to the new normal in terms of seeking medical attention and healthcare.
This was one of the highlights of the recently held webinar titled “Kumusta Dok: Patibayin and Patient-Doctor Connection sa New Normal.”
Kumusta Dok is an initiative that aims to empower patients to reconnect with their doctors during the new normal. It helps increase awareness in identifying risk factors, signs and symptoms of some of the top causes of death among Filipinos including heart disease, cancer, stroke, pneumonia, and diabetes.
“Ang ating healthcare system ay mas nabigyan ng pansin ang COVID-19 outbreak,” noted webinar resource speaker Nelia Medina, board member of the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO). “Dahil dito, ang mga annual at routine checkups ay kailangan limitahan o ipagpaliban upang maiwasan ang exposure sa virus,”
But, Medina added, patients of these life-threatening diseases have had a change in their healthcare-seeking behavior. Aware that traditional face-to-face is not always possible, patients are now more open to teleconsultation, which has become the best alternative for hospitals and doctors to examine non-COVID-19 patients.
She believes this will be a permanent fixture in healthcare moving forward. “I think ang paggamit ng digital technology ay magiging regular na kasangkapan sa patient care.”
Streamed live on the Facebook pages of Mercury Drug, Philippine Star and PAPO, the Kumusta Dok event also featured Dr. Juan Maria Ibarra Co, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC).
According to Co, after over a year into the pandemic, and gaining a better understanding of COVID-19, hospitals and laboratories have developed ways to keep patients and staff safe from the virus.
"Dahil may mga paraan na para gumana ng maayos ang mga hospitals at healthcare facilities sa panahon ng COVID-19, hindi tayo dapat matakot magpa-check-up. Hindi tayo dapat matakot bumalik sa ating doktor para ma-check ang blood sugar, blood pressure o cholesterol natin," Dr. Co said.
Most of the country’s hospitals have round-the-clock safety checks, contact tracing measures, and alcohol dispensers placed in strategic locations. They even assign a separate room for COVID-19 patients or those experiencing symptoms of the virus.
Dr. Co also stressed the importance of not neglecting non-COVID-19 illnesses. He said, “Kung pababayaan natin ang mga sakit tulad ng heart disease, cancer, diabetes, at COPD dahil natatakot lang tayo sa COVID-19, they will only get worse. May mga paraan naman para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng virus."
With regard to PAPO, they help non-COVID-19 patients develop the right health-seeking behavior by continuously organizing webinars during the pandemic. “Kami ay naniniwala na ang health literacy at patient empowerment ay malaking tulong para higit ma-pangalagaan ng pasyente ang kanilang sarili,” Medina said.
The Kumusta Dok Patient Summit may be viewed through this link on the Mercury Drug Corporation Facebook page.
The Kumusta Dok initiative also gives tips and updates on the channels available for patients to strengthen partnership with doctors throughout the health seeking journey. It shares efforts being done by healthcare facilities to ensure safety of patients and healthcare staff while delivering appropriate care.