3rd wave sees surge in demand for home healthcare services

As COVID-19 numbers surge, the government and hospitals have maintained that hospitalisation remains substantially lower than during the second wave, when there was a mad scramble for beds and oxygen. In the third wave being driven by the Omicron variant, the impact of infections has been relatively mild, with many choosing to get treated at home. This has resulted in a surge in demand for home healthcare services in the city.

The market is flush with many such packages, some big hospital chains even terming them Omicron care packages.

Dr. K. Shweta, medical director, Nightingales Home Health Services said, “Yes, there has been a rise in demand for home healthcare services. In the last couple of weeks, we have noticed an increase in enquiries for our home quarantine packages. Since most of the current COVID-19 cases have mild symptoms, they can be managed at home through regular interventions. Our seven-day home care quarantine programme comprises medical care kits, multiple video consultations with doctors and nurses, nutritionist support with diet plans, counselling and emotional well-being support. We have been closely working with corporates and RWAs to run Covid Care support programs in apartments.”

Change in perception

A concept that found popularity and wider acceptance since the pandemic struck, she said prior to COVID-19, home care was mainly considered for geriatric patients and post operative recovery. “However, the perception about home healthcare changed during the first and the second wave. Demand for doctor tele-consultations have increased exponentially. During the first and second wave, people had doubts on how patients can be treated remotely without visiting hospitals. This perception has changed, and people now have trust and confidence in home healthcare services,” she added.

These packages include, among other things, doctor video consultation, on call vital review with nursing, on call consultation with dietitian, remote monitoring of vitals by nurse, on call rehab therapist consultation, motivational activities and/or home kits. The charges vary widely - ₹350 a day to ₹19,000 for 14 days, with neither being the upper or lower limits.

Reluctance to visit hospitals

“With the current situation predominantly Omicron driven, the number of cases being treated at home has increased. In fact, among the COVID-19 cases currently, the hospitalisation rate is just 6% and over 93% of patients are recovering in home isolation as compared to delta driven second wave, where the hospitalisation rate was at 22-30%. Apart from these, elderly patients with other comorbidities are very reluctant to visit hospitals. So, there has been an increase in demand for other services such as doctor teleconsultations for non-Covid related issues, sample collection etc,” she said.

Dr. T. R. Hemkumar, Consultant - Internal Medicine, Sakra World Hospital said, “The demand for home healthcare services has been subdued in the current third wave of this pandemic. It had been very high during the second wave and moderate during the first wave of the pandemic because the isolation rules were much stricter and the severity of the disease was more unpredictable. At present, since the illness is milder and also people have a better understanding of medication and hospital accessibility, the home healthcare service requirements are more towards sample collection and digital consultations. Usually, senior citizens who are away from young family member prefer health home care services.”

However, Dr. Satyanarayana, interventional pulmonologist, lung transplant physician, Manipal Hospital (HAL Airport Road) said these packages were meant for very specific categories of people - the elderly, those with diabetes and hypertension, and people who have little family support and rely on interactions with the medical team.

”We’ve noticed that there are a lot of differences between infections caused by Omicron and Delta. Under Omicron, lung involvement, mortality and duration of illness are lesser. The packages offer comprehensive care during that period of time, but shouldn’t become a commercial thing. There has to be merit,” he said. He acknowledged that requests for tele-consultations have “skyrocketed”, and urged people to follow the dos and don’ts strictly to stay safe.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 1:18:05 am |