Poll finds patients avoiding non-COVID-19 related care

A majority of respondents say it’s unlikely for them to visit a hospital during the pandemic for a reason unrelated to COVID-19.

Patients are avoiding visiting their doctor for reasons unconnected to COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

The poll was performed from April 29 to 30 and received responses from 2,201 U.S. adults, and found that 62 percent say they’re unlikely to visit a hospital during the pandemic for issues unconnected to COVID-19, and only 39 percent say they would.

Primary care doctors fared better in the poll with 48 percent saying they were unlikely to visit for non-COVID-19 issues, while 39 percent say they would. It is unclear from the poll whether these sentiments are tied to a fear of infection or the Trump administration’s guidance urging the limiting of non-emergency procedures in an effort to not overtax the healthcare system during the pandemic.

Walk-in clinics are also feeling the weight of people’s reticence in visiting a healthcare facility as 65 percent of respondents say they would not visit for non-COVID-19 related issues and only 19 percent say that they would.

This unwillingness to seek care has already shown itself in surveys of practices. A Primary Care Collaborative survey from April found that 89 percent of respondents say their patient volumes have largely decreased and 82 percent of respondents said they were limiting well care and chronic care visits to their practices.

The drop in patient volumes is having a destructive effect on private practices. Another Primary Care Collaborative survey found that 47 percent of respondents said they were unsure if they will have enough cash to keep their practices open and 20 percent say they predicted their practices would close within four weeks.

Telemedicine has been the most effective dressing to staunch the bleeding as the Trump administration removes hurdles to the technology. The Morning Consult poll found that 23 percent of respondents have used telehealth services for an appointment with their doctor, a hospital, or a specialist in light of the pandemic.