Calling All Patients – Virtual Self-Management Group Classes Now Available!

Calling All Patients – Virtual Self-Management Group Classes Now Available!

By: Jeanie Park, Dora Avila, and Janeth Bravo - ACN Health Education

Calling All Patients – Virtual Self-Management Group Classes Now Available!

Calling All Patients – Virtual Self-Management Group Classes Now Available! 900 600 Health Services Los Angeles County

* “Tomando Control de su Salud” Zoom class

Patients and staff all had to swiftly adopt and adapt to telehealth in the past year. Even though we anticipated and feared technical difficulties, we saw this as a golden opportunity to take group education to a virtual platform. From May to June of this year, we successfully piloted, via Zoom, two Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs (CDSMP) – “Healthier Living” for English-speaking patients and “Tomando Control de su Salud” for Spanish-speaking patients. We are now accepting referrals for our next cohort. Workshops will start at the end of July.

Participants were recruited based on interest and telehealth readiness. Those willing, but unfamiliar with Zoom or telehealth, were provided a pre-group visit (“pre-visit”) session with a Health Educator. Pre-visit sessions consisted of explaining telehealth, downloading and using Zoom, and a test Zoom session. Patients who opted for a pre-visit reported feeling more prepared and ready for their first workshop.

These workshops were the first virtual class experience for many of the participants. While many did not know how to use Zoom, it did not stop them from trying it out because they wanted to learn how to better manage their health. Despite some technical difficulties, the participants were patient, understanding and reported that it was a valuable experience. One patient even said, “I’ve gone to school to learn things before but didn’t learn much. This way I was able to learn.”

In addition to becoming Zoom-savvy, as evidenced by fancy virtual backgrounds and the use of reactions, group camaraderie is another reason the participants are glad they joined the group. Many expressed that they like hearing from others in the group and liked sharing perspectives on health problems because they felt understood and relatable. One participant said, “I didn’t think I would want to continue, but I really enjoyed hearing from others in the group about their health problems and I do want to keep joining the following sessions.” Another reported, “it has helped to hear from others who are also experiencing lack of energy and fatigue. I thought it was only me.”

Before the pandemic, we offered various workshops across the different ACN sites, but distance between sites, staffing and logistics made it difficult to host regularly and often. Many participants in the past have dropped out of their cohort due to schedule or transportation issues. Since moving online, not only have we had consistent attendance, patients and staff across Health Services are now able to meet in one group without commuting. Though we are still in the early stages of implementation, we are optimistic about offering more online classes more often.

We would like to give special thanks to our team of Health Educators and Health Education Assistants. For more information, please contact us at patienteducation@dhs.lacounty.gov.