Patients are going to stay at home

QUICK READ: States lifting stay-at-home orders may not begin to bring patient volumes back for primary care physicians for several months, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by revenue cycle automation company Alpha Health, found that more than 60 percent of the 5,000 respondents said they would wait a month or more after stay-at-home orders were lifted before they would feel comfortable visiting their physicians. More than 40 percent say that the possibility of contracting COVID-19 prevents them from visiting doctors for other health concerns.

The survey wasn’t all doom and gloom for primary care physicians, though, as it gives a timeline for when patients will be willing to return to doctors’ offices. More than one-third, 35 percent, of respondents, say they will be willing to seek care immediately when the stay-at-home orders have been lifted. A further 37 percent say they would wait at least one month and 26 percent say they will wait at least three months. Only 8 percent of respondents say they will wait six months or more to receive care.

Overcoming this is going to be a huge challenge

Getting people in to see a doctor is going to be, perhaps, the biggest challenge of healthcare, in addition, federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. These issues need to be diagnosed by an HCP and not necessarily online.

In addition to mental health issues appointments for screenings of cancers of the cervix, colon, and breast were down between 86% and 94% in March, compared to average volumes in the three years before the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in the U.S., the Epic data show.

With seventy-eight percent of consumers saying they would skip at least one wellness visit, maintenance visit for a chronic illness, elective procedure, or recommended lab test or screening and thirty percent predicting that their spending on healthcare visits would increase overall’s a recipe for a healthcare tsunami.

Pharma, insurers and the AMA all need to work together to get people back into doctor’s offices. We need to put aside the push for profit to do what’s best for patients.