According to the most recent research conducted by ISTAT in 2018, more than 24 million Italians suffer from at least one chronic illness. More than half of these people require continuous care, a need that does not come to a halt despite this time of Coronavirus. Even though we are soon approaching phase 2, fragile and high-risk patients, like those who suffer from chronic diseases, must continue to remain at home. How can these patients avoid complications?
Changes in treating chronic disease
First and foremost, treatments should not be interrupted. Patients must remain in contact with their physicians and for any questions or complications, to avoid the risk of contagion, attending physicians should be contacted instead of physically going to a hospital or clinic. Patients that require continued monitoring can continue with periodical exams, but given their fragile state, they should opt for having blood tests, for example, done in the safety of their home. Once the tests are ready, the physician will notify the patient telematically of any changes needed in treatment.
Patients with a chronic disease taking medication under a treatment plan that is about to expire do not need to go to the hospital or clinic to renew the plan. AIFA has extended all treatment plans until May, which automatically renews for three months upon expiry. Thus, prescriptions for medication can still be issued by general practitioners. Diagnostic exams and visits continue to be guaranteed as they fall under the “U” (urgent) and “B” (brief) categories that are carried out within ten days.
Provision of medicines
It is no longer necessary to go to the doctor‘s office for a paper copy of the prescription dematerialized by the National Health System. The ordinance issued by the Civil Protection, in effect as of March 21, 2020, allows physicians to send the prescription via email or the number of the electronic prescription via SMS, WhatsApp or telematically. Patients can then pick up the medication at the pharmacy with their health card (home-delivery is available in some cases). Some medicines prescribed on the pink prescription form, such as pain therapy, still require a visit to the general practitioner’s office. In some regions, even medicine that must be picked up at a hospital pharmacy are prescribed on the pink prescription form.
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