Covid-19 has been unprecedented in many ways, bringing a multitude of challenges that have affected and continue to affect almost all aspects of life and industry sectors across boundaries. One of the unique challenges associated with Covid-19 has been the growing number of patients who are manifesting prolonged illness across a variety of organ systems. While this is an evolving landscape, what is definite is the need to formulate a long-term strategy that is aimed at addressing the medical management of these patients, and a key factor in this plan is collaboration.
Patients who manifest chronic symptoms of Covid-19 can often face life-threatening situations. There have been reports of the virus triggering long-term damage to organs such as the heart and lungs. In some patients, the virus is also known to cause neurological symptoms such as loss of smell or a state of confusion and seizures. In the current situation that is witnessing a rapid increase in the number of patients affected by Covid-19, one of the needs of the hour is to collect evidence on such long-term symptoms to help understand their consequences on wider healthcare systems globally. The earlier and the more systematically this evidence can be collected, the better the chance to develop an effective set of solutions at the earliest. Developing such solutions also means that best practices and lessons can be shared between countries and regions.
Collaboration between different stakeholders is essential for developing solutions impacting different aspects of a patient’s care. From a healthcare provider perspective, there is the need for a tangible plan for creating a patient registry tracking the progress of those affected by long-term effects of Covid-19. There are significant advantages of creating and maintaining a dedicated patient registry for this patient pool; one is that this registry can act as a significant source of information on the evolving landscape of the impact of this virus on such patients, and the other and perhaps more significant advantage from a resource-allocation perspective is that it will help healthcare providers in planning the long-term medical management of such patients. The government can also help in a significant way towards this endeavour by providing a fiscal package aimed at efficiently developing and running the monitoring system. Perhaps the most important stakeholder in this context is the common man who can help to the greatest extent by adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing masks where mandated, and maintaining good hygiene by proper washing of hands. Preventing the amplification of the existing problem in the first place is an effective way to manage the current situation and collective responsibility between different stakeholders is a crucial component of this plan.