Patient engagement for those at serious risk from COVID-19

New research captured in the fourth COVID Community Sentiment Index, published by Pfizer Australia shows three-quarters of Australians at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 do not have a COVID plan in place with their GP if they test positive for the virus.  The research also found that 89 per cent of GPs reported being concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the people they treat, compared to 67 per cent of the general population.

 

Dr Daniel Nour, founder of not-for-profit Street Side Medics and 2022 Young Australian of the Year, urges Australian doctors to continue to engage with their patients at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 on proactive steps they can take ahead of winter: “For most people, COVID-19 is no longer front of mind but all of us on the frontline are still seeing the significant impact of the virus on the more vulnerable members of our communities. If a patient you treat is at higher risk of serious illness, encourage them to put together a COVID plan now, test if they suspect COVID-19, and be ready to act fast and implement their plan if they test positive”, Dr Nour said.

 

The research found that more than a third (35 per cent) of Australians were not aware that oral antiviral medicines can help reduce the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and more than half (54 per cent) were not aware they need to be started within five days of symptoms starting or testing positive.

 

Additionally, the research showed 41 per cent of doctors do not always prescribe oral antiviral medicines to patients at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, with less severe symptoms reported as one of the leading barriers.

 

Dr Nour responded to these findings, adding: “If your patient is in the one in four Australians at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, they may be eligible for oral antiviral medicines. Don’t wait for worsening symptoms; treatment with oral antivirals needs to be commenced as soon as possible after testing positive for COVID-19 and within five days of symptoms starting.”

 

Dr Krishan Thiru, Medical Director at Pfizer Australia and New Zealand, said understanding the sentiment of GPs around COVID-19 was important because they are often the first point of contact for someone with a health concern.

 

“While we have been living with COVID-19 for four years, these results show GPs are still concerned about the impact of the virus in their communities – nearly 9 in 10 (86 per cent) GPs say they are concerned about misinformation around COVID-19 and oral antivirals. Now is the time for GPs to speak with their patients who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, provide them with accurate information, and jointly develop a plan in case they test positive for the virus,” Dr Thiru said

 

 

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