At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were obvious and immediate impacts on health across the globe. The virus infected millions, overwhelmed hospital wards and resulted in an immense loss of life. Two and a half years later, however, we’re beginning to see the less obvious effects of the pandemic become more apparent.
One of the most widespread issues is that many people delayed routine care, which could have major implications for long-term health. In a U.S. News & World Report article, American Heart Association president Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones explains that people became disconnected with their usual sources of healthcare, noting that this will “have ripple effects for years to come.” For example, he observed dramatic differences in blood pressure and diabetes control rates. “People just weren’t able to check in with their doctor and know their numbers and make sure that those things were under control,” he says.
However, patients with diabetes and high blood pressure weren’t the only people affected. In fact, the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey indicates that 11% of adults delayed or skipped at least one type of care in the previous 30 days due to coronavirus concerns. Now the question becomes: What can physicians and healthcare facilities do to help patients get back on track?
The American Academy of Family Physicians shares the following advice to encourage patients to resume routine care:
- Reassure patients of in-office masking and sanitation protocols.
- Discuss the importance of preventive screenings, well-child visits and immunizations. It may be helpful to emphasize that treatment can be more effective when issues are addressed at early stages.
- Space out in-office appointment times to minimize the number of people in the facility.
- Whenever possible, limit patients with COVID-19-like symptoms to video appointments and communicate this protocol to patients who attend in-office appointments.
- Reach out to patients to remind them that preventive care and chronic disease management matters!
At MLMIC, we also encourage our insureds to address gaps in patient care through effective communication and engagement strategies.