Women Using Digital Technology to Take Control of Long-COVID and Other Chronic Conditions

By on June 15, 2021

The critical health choices we made for ourselves during the pandemic reminds us it’s important to advocate for our own health, not only as we work our way out of this pandemic and deal with the lingering effects COVID-19 had on our bodies, but especially as we get older and deal with the chronic conditions many of us suffer from in general.

There is little doubt that COVID-19 will leave its mark on our society and there is a group of COVID-19 patients who will feel its effects for possibly years. Doctors are calling this Long-COVID, which is a conflagration of symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest palpitations, and more.

What is Long-COVID?

According to reports, up to one-third of COVID-19 patients have developed Long-COVID. Even President Joe Biden’s senior coronavirus adviser, Andy Slavitt, revealed that one of his sons, Zach, who is 19, has serious lingering effects from COVID-19 six months after he first tested positive and doctors haven’t figured out how to treat this yet, according to Bloomberg News.

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As a matter a fact, women are more likely to be impacted by Long-COVID. According to this article in Forbes, a study led by the University of Leicester looked into the physical, cognitive, and mental health impacts of COVID-19 after people had been hospitalized. Researchers found that seven in ten patients who were admitted with COVID-19 to the hospital reported being impacted by Long Covid for months afterward and symptoms impacted women between the ages of 40 and 60 the most.

Women’s autoimmune system

Researchers have pointed to our body’s immune response as a reason as to why Long Covid may be disproportionately affecting women. “Autoimmunity, where the body has an immune response to its own healthy cells and organs, is more common in middle-aged women,” Professor Louise Wain from the University of Leicester told the Financial Times, “This may explain why post-Covid syndrome seems to be more prevalent in this group, but further investigation is needed to fully understand the processes.”

Women also deal with chronic autoimmune conditions more so than men, occurring at a rate of 2 to 1. The exact mechanism of such autoimmune conditions is not well understood. However, the presumed mechanism tends to vary amongst the disorders and many autoimmune disorders tend to affect women during periods of extensive stress, such as pregnancy, or during a great hormonal change. A far greater number of women are affected every year with autoimmune diseases, leading to researchers attempting to identify the underlying factors, which could be responsible for this disparity.

Add to this that as we age, approximately 85 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 60 percent have at least two chronic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Various Chronic conditions impacting women over 50

chronic conditionsSo, as we age and continue to deal with chronic conditions and the effects of Long-COVID it’s more important than ever that we advocate for our own wellbeing and chronicle our symptoms to accurately report them to our doctors to help treat whatever we are dealing with. This can help eliminate certain testing and speed up our recovery. 

Using a digital platform is the best way to do that and finding the one that works best is important.

“I often wish I could place a Vulcan mind-meld on patients to instantaneously understand how they are feeling and what they have observed,” said Marta T. Becker, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Journal My Health. “A patient may not think to mention their big toe occasionally turns blue, but that may be an important diagnostic clue, or not. Physicians’ brains are honed to cut through information and recognize meaningful patterns. Journal My Health reduces the time required to gather and analyze comprehensive health information and formulate a personalized treatment plan.” 

Patient advocacy and symptom tracking was the focus of a recent Facebook Live event featuring Joyce Griggs, the founder of the United States of Healthcare, which publishes expert tips from insiders working in the healthcare trenches – insurance, providers, office workers, caregivers, etc. and Tracey Welson-Rossman, the founder of Journal My Health, an app that tracks and visually presents clues to diagnosing, managing and treating chronic conditions.

They combined to provide the following tool and expert tips that will make you a better advocate for your own health include:

  1. Find the right healthcare provider for you
    • Expert tip: Online research may include your insurance portal but don’t stop there. Websites offer information on board certifications, education, licenses, and actions against a physician or physician assistant.
    • Expert tip: Rely on your trusted healthcare providers to recommend and refer specialists, or to find providers in other geographies. Go to those practice websites to find out more about the practitioners and the practice.
  2. Interview your providers…
    • Expert Tip: Learn about physicians as well as nurses/nurse practitioners and the office staff at the practice. Your experience has as much to do with the team as it does with the doctor.
    • Expert Tip: Don’t be shy. Good providers expect and appreciate being asked. For guidance and interview questions, download How to Interview and Assess Healthcare Providers at the United States of Healthcare.
  3. A good pharmacist, and the data at their fingertips, should be leveraged…
    • Expert tip: Take advantage of the advanced systems and databases kept by pharmacies by having all your medications filled at one pharmacy/pharmacy chain.
    • Expert tip: Ask your pharmacist to look at that data and do an intermittent review of the medications you are taking.
  4. Your personal data is most valuable, use apps and biometrics…
    • Expert tip: Patients dealing with chronic conditions (45% of Americans) should take advantage of symptom tracking apps. Ex. Journal My Health lets you personalize the symptoms you track, makes it easy to keep symptom information up-to-date using your mobile phone, and automatically integrates your personal biometrics from wearables and other digital sources like weather apps.

“It’s important to harness the ‘data of you,’” said Welson-Rossman. “We have tremendous amounts of personal health and wellness data and we need to apply it to the patient uniquely. This is not data about Long-COVID or a chronic fatigue condition, this is data specific to how you and your body are affected by a condition. Leveraging personal information makes for better diagnosis, treatment, and management not of THE condition but of YOUR condition.”

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Women Using Digital Technology to Take Control of Long-COVID and Other Chronic Conditions