The importance of communication, the presentation of data and numbers, the use of available resources, the possible use of technology are four issues that need to be considered.
1 – The importance of communication
When dealing with situations that can have a really significant impact on people’s lives, you need to pay great attention to how and what you communicate, weighing nouns and adjectives.
Once you have embarked on a path, it is then very difficult to scale down, contextualize and specify the extent and danger of an infection. Different modulations of the message over time generate doubts and confuse people, creating insecurity and distrust in institutions.
2 – Data and numbers need to be contextualized and explained
Except for insiders, people do not have a perception of the real risks that age, infection, disease, environment and lifestyles can determine. As there are no terms of comparison, it becomes difficult to understand the real level of risk posed by the Coronavirus.
For these reasons it becomes essential to present data and numbers explaining their meaning from an epidemiological point of view, comparing them with other infections or risks that are perhaps better known and accepted as “normal”.
3 – The use of resources must be weighted
In a health system where resources are limited and sized for the normal management of health, in the face of unforeseen events, it is necessary to weigh up the choices that are to be made very carefully.
It is necessary to avoid, in the wake of the emergency, taking paths that are unsustainable and perhaps even counterproductive. It is necessary to dose the forces to formulate a constant and continuous response, able to deal with the evolution of the infection over time.
4 – The possible use of technology
It should be noted that the management of fragile patients, who are at greater risk of Coronavirus, must be supported by the use of technology. It is unthinkable to use care models that are based exclusively on the occasional physical presence of doctors, nurses and social workers.
The models and the emergency network must provide for the use of IT platforms able to inform citizens, detect their health and communicate with them. Relying on call centres or hoping that nursing services will be able, in the presence of an emergency, to deal with citizens’ questions or to assist people in need of help or surveillance at home, via the telephone, is utopian.
We need to invest in techno-assistance and telemedicine not only to cope with possible emergencies but for the day-to-day management of chronic and fragile patients.
We hope that this extraordinary event can become an opportunity to finally think about how to use technology to improve patient care.