March is Kidney Awareness Month

Kidney disease is a major public health concern and often goes undetected by standard lab work until it is very advanced. People who have diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, or obesity have an increased risk of developing kidney disease. If you have a diagnosis of kidney disease, current recommendations to prevent worsening kidney function include maintaining a healthy blood pressure (systolic less than 140 mmHg), keeping tight control of your blood sugars, and limiting your salt intake (less than 2000 mg per day). In addition to those recommendations mentioned previously, one should also avoid NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, naproxen) and limit your protein intake. If you suspect that you or your loved one might be at risk for developing kidney disease, please reach out to your primary care provider and discuss your concerns.

COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health and Cognition

Tara Fragiacomo

From observing patients in the hospital to using telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) to understand patient trends, healthcare providers  are taking every chance they have to understand the implications of COVID-19, and the experiences of patients who suffer from it. Many clinicians are using telelehealth and RPM to better address symptoms and create care management plans for patients who no longer test positive yet are still struggling with side effects from the virus.Many clinicians report that their patients are experiencing long-term side effects after suffering from COVID-19. From increased fatigue to continued breathlessness to blood clots, effects on organs, and beyond, the list of side effects continues to grow.

Aside from the physical toll that COVID-19 has on patients, there are often mental and psychological symptoms that patients experience while they have the virus, and after. Patients are experiencing isolation and loneliness, which is leading to increased anxiety and depression. In many cases, the virus itself is causing various neurological, cognitive, and behavioral changes which present as memory retention issues, dementia-like symptoms, and PTSD symptoms.

Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges Post COVID-19

“COVID brain” or “brain fog” is a common virus symptom that affects the brain’s cognitive and memory functions. According to Harvard Health, COVID has the potential to cause similar brain damage as that of stroke, lack of oxygen, or direct infection. Mimicking symptoms of Dementia or Alzheimer’s in patients of all ages, researchers are noticing an increase in forgetfulness and concentration in patients recovering from COVID.

Throughout the recovery process, occupational, speech, and language therapists are creating rehabilitation plans to address issues among various brain functions. Leveraging telehealth and virtual visits, therapists partner with a patient’s primary care provider to develop a rehabilitation plan that best fits the patient’s needs. This includes testing cognition, memory, and speech while offering exercises to address each symptom.

Increased Anxiety and Mental Health Symptoms

In addition to the toll COVID-19 is taking on cognition and memory, the virus has in some cases had a negative effect on patient’s mental health. One study from The Lancet found that 20% of COVID-19 patients are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia within 90 days of being diagnosed with the virus. 

Women patient with her therapist

Moving forward with COVID Recovery

Many providers are using telehealth and RPM to help their patients manage the lasting side effects of the virus. Telehealth and RPM programs have helped clinicians pivot how they treat patients to rethink care outside of the hospital or clinics four walls.

Telehealth and RPM programs have helped health system optimize capacity by ensuring beds are reserved for the most critical patients. They’ve been used to lessen the risk of infection to both patients and medical staff. In non-COVID patients, telehealth and RPM have been used as a way to monitor and manage illness at home. From treating COVID-positive patients exhibiting symptoms to treating COVID side effects, to making a safe space for mental health treatments, there’s an endless amount of possibilities for telehealth and RPM programs.

Providers are quickly recognizing the shift that healthcare is taking in the direction of virtual visits and RPM. The pandemic has created a difficult situation for people with existing anxieties and mental health disorders, while also increasing the number of new symptoms in patients without a history. The influx of patients seeking mental health care, either because they’re experiencing loneliness, anxiety, or COVID-related neurological conditions is causing a huge jump in the use of mental health-focused telehealth programs. As patients express their willingness and acceptance of telehealth, providers are making it more accessible. Telehealth has often been referred to as “the future of healthcare,” but the pandemic has brought that future quickly into view.

This article is presented from our telehealth partners at Health Recovery Solutions. For more information, check out

The Epidemic of Obesity and How Research is Showing Telehealth Can Help

Elena Muller, MPH

This blog discusses how telehealth can help individuals with obesity track their activity, engage in education, monitor their vitals, and communicate with their clinicians. 

Over the last two decades, the prevalence of obesity in the United States increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. The prevalence of severe obesity climbed to 9.2% from 4.7% in the same time frame. Scientists predict that this number will only continue to rise as more Americans live a sedentary lifestyle and consume unhealthy foods. People are eating higher-calorie, higher fat, highly processed foods, and are less physically active than ever before. By 2030, researchers predict that 50% of the US population will be obese. 

Obesity is often associated with poorer mental health outcomes and a reduced quality of life, as well as conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It can influence hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and other conditions as well. Simply, obesity can exacerbate existing  conditions, while directly causing others. According to Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, chairman for the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and professor of health policy and management at Emory University, obesity is the “leading cause of preventable mortality because obesity leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other diseases.”

Obesity Infographic
Click Image to Enlarge
Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

Telehealth’s Role in Facilitating Behavior Change

During the last year, more patients than ever before have turned to telehealth to receive care. Some are using it to manage their chronic conditions, or avoid the emergency department by enrolling in a hospital to home program, while others are using it for annual primary care visits or therapy appointments. 

Across patient populations, the benefits of telehealth has been shown. We know that telehealth can help patients safely monitor their condition at home. It can help them understand their condition through education, record their symptoms, improve medication adherence, and communicate with their providers in real time. Telehealth can even incorporate the caregiver into the patient’s daily plan. 

For obese and overweight individuals, telehealth tools can be extremely beneficial. Why? Because telehealth helps change behavior, and behavior change is the necessary catalyst for weight loss and healthier living. 

With telehealth, providers can offer nutrition coaching and education, symptom surveys (to monitor addictive behaviors, for example) activity tracking (through FitBit and other wearable device integrations), and remote patient monitoring of weight and blood pressure (and other vitals as well). It can enable more continuous care, providing a resource for on-demand treatment and counseling. With telehealth, obese individuals can access a combination of both behavioral care and clinical care—two areas essential for obesity treatment. 

Weight Loss Coaching with Telehealth

2018 study, assessed a 12-week telehealth-based weight loss program that integrated health coaching via video conferencing. A bluetooth scale was used by participants as well to track weight loss and gain during the 12 weeks. Of the 13 participants in the intervention group, clinically significant weight loss was achieved in 9 out of the 13 participants. In the control group, 1 participant achieved clinically significant weight loss (out of 12). The difference between the control and intervention group was the weight loss coaching platform—the control group had real-time access to a health coach who could review real-time data from the mhealth devices and assist or encourage as necessary. 

This study supports the idea that telehealth can help with weight loss. Video conferencing, education, and weight tracking enables the obese individual to understand their behaviors to make necessary changes in their day-to-day life.

Wearables, Text Messaging, and Health Coaching

A study published this month explored the efficacy of a 16-week telehealth intervention on weight loss. The 30 patients were enrolled in a program which consisted of activity tracking through wearable devices, automated text messaging, and trained health coaching. All participants were patients at an academic medical center’s primary care clinic. Results of the study showed 22 of the 30 participants recorded significant weight loss and an increase in physical activity. These findings suggest that telehealth tools are beneficial in promoting weight loss and physical activity amongst obese individuals. 

Telehealth Monitoring and Type 2 Diabetes

It’s essential to note that obesity is one of the root causes of type 2 diabetes, one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the US. Many providers across the country have launched diabetes prevention programs to help patients manage their weight to avoid vulnerability to type 2 diabetes. 

In an upcoming blog, we’ll discuss telehealth and type 2 diabetes further. We’ll explore how organizations are incorporating telehealth in diabetes prevention, as well as how organizations are using telehealth to monitor patients who have already developed type 2 diabetes. 

This article was taken from our partner in telehealth services – Health Recovery Solutions. If you would like more information, check out

Find Peace After a Loss With These Grief Management Tips

Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience, and managing grief can be challenging. People often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and uncertain of how to cope. Grief is not linear — it comes in waves — but there are several things you can do to help ease the pain of loss and find peace.

This article from Elite Home Health & Hospice will provide tips on how to manage grief after losing a loved one.

Make Self-Care a Priority

It may be harder some days than others, but it’s crucial to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly (even if it’s just taking a walk around the block), and talk with friends who understand what you’re going through. It’s also important to practice self-care by doing small things that bring you joy, like listening to music or watching your favorite movie.

Seek Help From a Therapist

If your grief is significantly impacting your day-to-day life, consider seeking professional counseling or therapy. A therapist can help you process your emotions in a safe environment and give you coping strategies for dealing with the pain of loss. Plus, they can provide valuable insights into how best to honor your loved one while healing from the loss.

Find an Outlet for Your Feelings

Creating art or writing poetry can be powerful outlets for expressing grief while honoring the memory of your loved one. Writing down memories or stories about them can also be therapeutic — it keeps their memory alive while helping you process the emotions associated with their passing. You might also try another form of creative expressions, such as dance or visual art.

Find Ways to Unwind

In addition, find other ways to relax, such as yoga or meditation. Taking time out of each day for relaxation will help clear your mind from anxious thoughts and reduce stress levels that have been compounded by grief. Also, find activities that allow you to stay connected with people who understand what you’re going through — sometimes just talking about it out loud helps us make sense of our sorrows in ways nothing else does.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Honor Your Loved One

While writing down good memories is an excellent way to manage your grief, it’s also a good idea to find a way to permanently honor your loved one. Not only does this help you navigate your feelings, but it also provides a way to create a remembrance and celebrate their life.

You can look for a memorial plaque that can be installed either indoors or outdoors — bronze will hold up to the elements and create a beautiful, long-lasting memory that you and your family members will cherish. These plaques are customizable in their thickness, backgrounds, colors, and borders, so you can truly honor your loved one with personal touches. Give this a look when you’re ready to create a memorial plaque.

Coping with grief is never easy but it is possible — with patience, self-care, and support from those around us — to find peace after loss. Take care of yourself by making healthy choices and managing your feelings in a healthy way. Talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, if necessary, and find support from your friends and family. When you’re ready, consider creating a plaque that will allow you to give your loved one the memorial they deserve.

This blog was written by Annabelle Harris (