Paradoxically, patients who may be at greatest risk for complications due to COVID-19 are opting out of the very care that could keep them from suffering with severe disease, according to research published by Patient Care Online. The concern is especially great among those with chronic conditions such as asthma and type 2 diabetes. The problem, simply, is that they’re scared; 40% said they’re “worried/very worried” about going to a medical facility, including the emergency room, for needed care—with 10% actively avoiding care because of their fears. The problem seems most prevalent in patients with chronic pain (with 52% of patients saying they had foregone or would forego care due to the pandemic) and rheumatoid arthritis (46%), followed by arrhythmia (45%), type 2 diabetes (45%), migraine (43%), depression (42%), and asthma (39%). Interestingly, nearly half of these patients are seeking virtual care in lieu of an in-person visit. The take-home for urgent care providers who are offering telemedicine is, comb your records to see which existing patients have these conditions and let them know you’re available to assess them virtually. And if you don’t offer telehealth services but are experiencing a dip in patient visits, make the case that 1) you’re following all the guidelines for safe on-site care and 2) not tending to chronic health concerns increases the risk that patients could wind up in the hospital—a scenario no one wants to consider in the midst of a pandemic.
Confirmed: Patients Are Opting Out of Essential Care During the Pandemic; Help Them!