Consulting Services of Iran Health Insurance Organization During the COVID-19 Era

AUTHORS

Ali Akbar Hesam 1 , * , Soghra Fallahi 1 , Alireza Arabi 2 , Ali Ayoobian 3 , Mohsen Koolivand 1 , Ali Shojaee 4 , Mohammadjavad Hesam 5

1 Cardiovascular Research Center, Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, Bandar Abbas, Iran

2 Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Health Services Management, Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Management Sciences and Health Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5 International Institut of Franch Studies, Strasbourg, France

How to Cite: Hesam A A, Fallahi S, Arabi A , Ayoobian A , Koolivand M, et al. Consulting Services of Iran Health Insurance Organization During the COVID-19 Era, Hormozgan Med J. Online ahead of Print ; In Press(In Press):e107648. doi: 10.5812/hmj.107648.

ARTICLE INFORMATION

Hormozgan Medical Journal: In Press (In Press); e107648
Published Online: November 14, 2020
Article Type: Letter
Received: September 22, 2020
Accepted: November 1, 2020
Uncorrected Proof scheduled for 25 (1)
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Dear editor,

The COVID-19 pandemic, which causes severe and acute respiratory distress syndrome, carries high morbidity and mortality all around the world (1). In addition, lack of definitive treatment or prevention as well as predictions reported by some epidemiologists that at least 60% of the population have been infected by Covid-19 resulted in stress and anxiety in various societies (2). Fear and anxiety caused by the outbreak, due to its high rate of spread, is destructive and can lead to mental health problems (3). It's well-documented that stressful, distressing, and emotionally disturbing conditions weaken the immune system in the long-term and increase susceptibility to possible infections. Long-term quarantine and hearing/reading disturbing news about the pandemic significantly increase the individual's stress levels (4, 5). Today, health information includes not only information related to medical records but also information regarding preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, and rehabilitative measures, such as educational text messages, books, articles, etc. Access to such information is both useful to prevent the infection and to facilitate the treatment. This information is provided and presented with the participation of health insurance professionals (6). Health insurance funds can be highly useful during health crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, through principled planning, appropriate infrastructure, and skilled manpower.

Iran Health Insurance Organization: When an epidemic begins to spread (e.g., Covid-19), access to valid information not only is necessary but also has an important role in reducing anxiety and psychological pressures. Since the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic in Iran, Iran Health Insurance Organization (IHIO), with its wide national network, is providing health information services to all citizens by a coordinated program named 1666, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This system was promoted through various means such as media, sending text messages to all citizens, social media, newspapers publishing by the headquarters of the organization, and the national network of the IHIO. Health professionals (e.g., physicians) are available to answer the questions of citizens. Operators record all questions in a checklist. Health professionals try to create a two-way conversation when answering the questions and providing recommendations. Besides, they advise those with suspicious symptoms of Covid-19 to refer to healthcare centers.

Regarding the World Health Organization's emphasis on public access to health information (7) and the governmental mandates, developing a platform for public access to information seems necessary in Iran. Therefore, in-time universal access to information can reduce treatment costs (8, 9), promote prevention, especially during health crises (10), and improving community health. In this regard, coordination and cooperation between health professionals and caregivers can play an effective role. The newly launched program not only helps the users to reduce their anxiety and stress, but also plays an effective role in identifying suspected cases of Covid-19 and following up their referral to healthcare centers. Therefore, it's recommended that by using information technology the IHIO increases public access to information, particularly during health crises. Besides, using available facilities and capacities, the IHIO can develop educational and counseling programs, similar to 1666, which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to increase the level of health literacy with the main goal of behavior change. Nowadays, health insurance organizations can employ information technology to increase the quality of healthcare services and the health literacy of their insures.

Acknowledgements

Footnotes

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