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Addressing the COVID-19 infodemic

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The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an “infodemic,” or an over-abundance of information.

Misinformation surrounding COVID-19 is a pressing public health issue. COVID-19 is the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media are being used to keep people informed and safe. However, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an “infodemic,” or an over-abundance of information, says Matthew Frese, general manager, Med Learning Group.

The excessive amount of information on COVID-19 makes it difficult for the public to distinguish between fact and fiction. This confusion undermines the public’s willingness to follow legitimate public health measures and allows the virus to thrive. Unsubstantiated claims regarding cures, vaccine risks, and face masks have gained significant exposure on the internet and social media.

Frese says: “This misinformation may cost lives by promoting the use of fake prevention measures and treatments while discouraging the use of evidence-based measures.”

To tackle misinformation, clinicians and the media should guide the public toward reputable and authorised sources of information on the national and local levels. Information directed at the public should use patient-friendly language and be easily accessible through social media and other virtual platforms.

“We also need to improve medical education to ensure that physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team are provided with updated and evidence-based scientific advice on vaccines and treatments,” he highlights. “This will allow them to answer patient questions better and dispel common myths within the community.”

Managing the infodemic is a critical part of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is where technology can play a crucial role, according to Frese. Technology plays an essential role in increasing patients’ knowledge about risk factors and treatment options while facilitating collaboration and communication with providers. Moreover, patients’ active use of social media and digital educational resources can improve access to care, facilitate screening programmes, enhance patient education and adherence, and increase clinical decision-making engagement. Technology also plays a vital role in connecting clinicians worldwide so that best practices can be shared promptly and effectively. The ability to quickly disseminate accurate information is also crucial in a rapidly evolving pandemic. 

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Matthew Frese

To ensure this connectivity, Continuing Medical Education industry has created FRONTLINE, a resource platform designed to keep doctors and the community informed about the latest updates, guidelines, trends and resources related to the coronavirus.

Frese shares: “COVID Frontline is a comprehensive and up-to-date resource centre that helps clinicians and patients stay informed of the latest developments in the management of COVID-19. The website contains innovative tools to help clinicians learn about emerging therapies and best practices to improve patient outcomes, such as an interactive dashboard of clinical trials, animations on the mechanism of action of novel vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, and infographic highlights of emerging clinical trial data.

The platform contains predictors of disease severity, pathophysiology, symptoms, treatments, vaccines, and information on how COVID-19 affects the health professionals and their capacity to care for existing patients. It also provides information on the latest approved treatments.

“The platform offers current and patient-friendly content for the public. Public service announcements, animations, and links to trusted government and medical resources help to dispel misinformation about COVID-19 in communities and empower patients to engage in their healthcare,” he concludes.

This article appears in the latest issue of Omnia Health Magazine. Read the full issue online today.  

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