SUMMARY: In a recent study by The Harris Poll on behalf of TIME, the overwhelming majority of Americans (78%) admitted to delaying routine medical services and health care appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic. The health care industry should invest more in patient outreach, communication and education.
Via The NY Times “the coronavirus pandemic has yet to end, but we are already beginning to feel the aftershocks. Even as thousands of Americans continue to die of Covid-19 every day, many people are suffering from serious health problems unrelated to the virus because their health care has been disrupted. With many Americans still afraid to go to hospitals and doctor’s offices, a second, more subtle pandemic is now looming because of the diseases that have gone undiagnosed and untreated since March 2020”.
The Harris Poll says “despite the uptick in telehealth usage, mental health appears to be taking a backseat — indicating either a gap in availability or a reluctance to seek mental health services remotely. Twenty-nine percent of Americans in the survey said they received mental health care prior to the pandemic, and yet only 24% report receiving this service since the pandemic’s start”.
To make matters worse Americans, confined to home because of the pandemic, are getting fatter which is leading to more cases of diabetes. Researchers found that over nearly two decades, obesity contributed to anywhere from 30% to 53% of new type 2 diabetes diagnoses among middle-aged and older Americans. That higher percentage was seen in recent years, as the prevalence of obesity rose nationally.
Those consequences are far-reaching, given the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. In the United States alone, more than 31 million people have diabetes — the vast majority of whom have type 2, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Does Preventive Health Care Save Money? Savings estimates vary, depending upon how cost analysis is conducted, but in one analysis researchers found that an increase in the use of preventive care services would yield $3.7 billion savings, which is about 0.2 percent of all personal health care costs in the United States.
Our healthcare system is designed to treat chronic conditions, but just a small fraction of healthcare dollars go to prevention. If I market a diabetes medication, I would include information on my drug site to help reverse Type 2 diabetes. If I’m a health insurer, I’m offering customers incentives to exercise, like free wearable devices to monitor activity. Finally, if I’m an HCP, I tell patients they need to lose weight or else they could be in for a really right time.
Even when the pandemic is manageable, the after-effects will cost an already strained healthcare system billions. Is pharma preparing HCPs for the onslaught of potential medical problems, or are they just pitching drugs to treat these conditions?
The FDA should require all pharma product websites to carry information on wellness and the disease state. They should also ensure that they clearly communicate the importance of seeing a qualified HCP to manage potential health issues before they become chronic problems.