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COVID’s Impact On The Willingness To Seek Medical Care

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2021

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COVID-19 has made 2020 an unforgettable year because it has fundamentally altered the way people live, work, and interact on a global scale.  Healthcare professionals around the globe have been stretched to their limits combatting the pandemic, while the realities of the virus have made every cough and sniffle a justifiable cause for concern while simultaneously increasing the risks associated with getting those symptoms properly diagnosed by a professional. 

These competing causes for concern have made seeking out healthcare more complicated than ever this year, and have left many feeling that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. To try and get a better handle on how people across America are grappling with the unique healthcare challenges facing us all due to the coronavirus, our marketing team decided to run a survey of more than 1,900 people asking how the virus has impacted their attitudes and actions when it comes to seeking medical care and advice. 

Data on the percentage difference in medical visits this year

One of the things we were most interested in exploring is how COVID has changed the frequency with which people are going to see their doctors and other medical professionals. We found that overall there has been a 17% decrease in the number of in-person medical visits, while the number of telehealth visits rose by 18%. Given the infectious nature of the disease and the importance of social distancing in containing its spread, these numbers make sense. We also found that only 17% of our surveyed sample had seen a medical professional in-person more than once throughout 2020, far less than the same group visited a medical professional in-person throughout 2019. As expected, telemedicine visits partially filled this void throughout 2020, as 6 out of 10 of those surveyed sought telemedicine care in 2020,compared to less than 5 in 10 in 2019. 

The most common concerns for seeking medical care during COVID-19

To better understand what is keeping people away from in-person care and any issues they may have regarding telehealth, we also asked survey respondents to tell us about their biggest concerns with telehealth care in 2020. 

When it comes to in-person healthcare visits, sharing physical space with other people was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. 22% of respondents indicated that they are most worried about sharing physical space with other patients. Additionally, more than 11% of those surveyed listed interactions with medical staff as a top concern. Ultimately, over 50% of those surveyed reported that interactions with other people are most likely to make them reconsider seeking medical help, far outpacing any concerns that those surveyed might have about sanitation procedures. 

A similar but smaller consensus was found in regards to telehealth. When asked their biggest concern about using digital video conferencing to see a doctor, more than 45% of those surveyed told us that hampering a provider’s ability to diagnose them accurately without a physical exam represents their biggest concern. However, the second-place answer (17% of those surveyed) indicated  they do not have any concerns about telehealth services at all, and over three times as many of those surveyed reported they do not have any concerns about seeking in-person healthcare.  

What percentage of people delay medical care in 2020

Non-COVID related medical care (i.e. routine visits or chronic maintenance of health conditions unrelated to the pandemic) has taken a back seat for many of those surveyed due to  concerns about becoming infected with COVID-19, a shift in healthcare worker priority to patients suffering from COVID-19,and the number of offices and providers who have stopped offering services during the pandemic. We found that nearly 7 out of every 10 people have put off some kind of medical care they would have otherwise sought this year because of the pandemic. Of that group, nearly 30% pushed their care back at least one full month, and almost 35% have yet to reschedule the care they delayed, demonstrating a major interruption to the American healthcare system as we know it, and mounting concerns for individuals in need of non-urgent, but nonetheless important care.

Most common medical procedures delayed during 2020

We also asked survey responders to describe the types of medical procedures they delayed in 2020. The majority of respondents categorized the delayed services as preventive care (i.e. routine physicals and well checks). However, over 19% of survey respondents suffered some type of non-emergent illness or injury which required care they never sought due to the pandemic. Alarmingly,, 13% of survey respondents suffered an emergent injury or illness and still put off seeking care because of their concerns surrounding COVID. 

Nearly one-third of those surveyed  delayed their medical care by approximately 2-4 weeks. Another 29% took just 1-2 weeks to reschedule.

When will people return to pre-pandemic comfort levels in seeking medical care

Finally, we presented our sample population with a hypothetical: Once the virus is fully under control and contained, how long will it take before they are as comfortable seeking medical care as they were prior to the pandemic? 

39% of those surveyed reported it would take them less than a month to return to pre-pandemic comfort levels seeking medical care again in this situation, while another 19% indicated it would take them closer to 1-3 months. Interestingly, 16.5% of those surveyed indicated they have already reached their  pre-pandemic comfort levels in seeking medical care. 

Regardless of everyone’s personal feelings or fears arising from  COVID-19, the general population still deserves attentive and comprehensive medical care. With a shift in priorities across healthcare facilities and a growing number of patients with chronic conditions falling further behind those in need of urgent or pandemic-related care, increasing numbers of patients are reporting concerns about medical malpractice. Our dedicated team of specialists at Weiss & Paarz is available to help figure out whether such concerns are actionable and/or warrant a recovery 

Disclaimer: The historical information and specific statistics displayed above are solely designed to provide general knowledge to the public and are being used as a part of attorney marketing. Cited statistics and statements were taken from the research of various independent websites (referenced below). Weiss & Paarz did not take any steps to replicate the findings of any sources used in this infographic, nor were the numbers or results displayed above independently verified by Weiss & Paarz.

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