With days to go before Christmas, Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Of reworking plans to adapt to the latest virus risks. Of searching for at-home tests and not finding them. Of wondering whether, after two years of avoiding Covid-19, or surviving it, or getting vaccinated and maybe even boosted, Omicron is the variant they inevitably catch. (N.Y. Times). Will this affect healthcare?
I keep in contact with many thought leaders to keep a pulse on what’s happening within the healthcare market. While there is usually a dropoff in visiting doctors during the holidays, most see a significant decrease in patient visits.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal, “the remarkable frequency of delays and disruptions in health care mostly related to the reduction of the COVID-19 burden unintentionally posed a major risk on cancer care worldwide. Strategies can be proposed to mitigate the major delays and disruptions and standardize their measurement and reporting. As a high number of publications continuously are being published, it is critical to harmonize the upcoming reports and constantly update this review.”
Healthcare professionals see an increase in delayed cancer diagnosis and treatments universally, especially among low-income people of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks and Hispanics are about twice as likely as white people to die of COVID-19. While some steps have been taken to improve health disparities, experts fear that the pandemic will eliminate all the improvements that have been made over the years.
Many patients are shunning hospitals and clinics. The coronavirus has diminished trust in the U.S. medical system that even people with obstructed bowels, chest pain, and stroke symptoms ignore danger signs and stay out of the emergency room, with potentially mortal consequences.
A Harris poll on behalf of the American Heart Assn. Found roughly 1 in 4 adults experiencing a heart attack or stroke would rather stay at home than risk getting infected with the coronavirus at the hospital. These concerns are deeper in Black (33%) and Latino (41%) populations, said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the American Heart Assn. And a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University.
The drastic falloff of routine screening is perhaps even more worrisome, especially in regions hit hard by the virus. Models created by the medical research company IQVIA predict delayed diagnoses of an estimated 36,000 breast cancers and 19,000 colorectal cancers due to COVID-19’s scrambling of medical care.
Not one pharma website emphasizes the danger of undiagnosed health conditions when people need to be informed that any delay could be costly. Our healthcare system doesn’t spend enough on prevention because we treat patients.
COVID is severe, and the public knows that, but the media seems more centered on scare headlines than informing people on the facts. The unvaccinated people are holding us all hostage, but perhaps the worst won’t be felt until the latest outbreak is under control when patients return to their doctors. Studies will indeed show that a lot of people died because they delayed care, and that is unacceptable,