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Coordinating Care – Helping a Member with Rheumatoid Arthritis Recover from COVID

Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation, pain and mobility issues. RA, like all autoimmune diseases, puts people at higher risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications. That’s why Kim, a Humana at Home care manager, was so concerned when she called Iris, a Humana member receiving treatments for RA.

Iris tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks before Kim’s call. Although her cough had somewhat improved, she was still struggling with fever, fatigue, weakness and dizziness when standing. Kim asked Iris to check her blood pressure, and, when the reading was within normal range, she became concerned about Iris’ oxygenation level.

Talking through her symptoms, Iris noted she was continuing to take medications to treat RA while recovering from COVID-19. When Kim asked Iris to read the names on her prescription bottles, she saw a potential issue. Two of Iris’ RA prescriptions were biologics, a class of drugs that treat certain medical conditions by suppressing the immune system.

Kim placed a call to Iris’ RA doctor, investigating a potential link between Iris’ ongoing COVID-19 symptoms and her RA medications. She also got in touch with Iris’ primary care physician and requested a staff member call Iris to review all of her medications.

When Kim called Iris back in a few hours, she relayed a plan from Iris’ doctors to help her recover quicker –follow up calls with both her RA and primary care doctors to address ongoing symptoms and medications, which would include Iris not taking two of her RA medications.

Kim’s intervention came at exactly the right moment. When Kim called to check on Iris a few days later, she felt relieved. Iris’ recovery was going well, and she started feeling better within a day of stopping those two RA medications.

Iris ended the call by thanking Kim, saying she wasn’t sure she would still be here if not for how much Kim helped her through a difficult situation.

By coordinating her care, Kim made sure Iris was receiving treatment that worked for all of her medical conditions. Caring about our members and making sure their healthcare sees them holistically – that’s the heart of what we call Human Care.

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