Losing Connection with Patients During COVID-19 – #HITsm Chat Topic

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 9/11 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Sarah Bennight (@SarahBennight) from @StericycleComms on the topic of “Losing Connection with Patients During COVID-19“.

During the initial spike and unknown of the pandemic in April, data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program showed that emergency room visits had declined as much as 42%. Even more concerning is that patients who eventually did seek emergency care had delayed treatment for so long that irreversible damage was present.

This trend isn’t only affecting ER visits but also primary care and other specialties. According to a recent Kaiser Foundation study, 48% of Americans polled said they had delayed medical care because of the pandemic. Of those respondents, 11% said their condition has worsened as a result of delayed care. So not only are patients not seeking care, but they are keenly aware of the damaging effects on their health. So why are patients still not going to the doctor?

While financial hardships are certainly a barrier to receiving care, increasing mental health stress on patients and caregivers is undoubtedly another cause. With people suddenly cut off from their support circles, friends, and family, mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and stress are rising. A recent American Psychiatric Association poll shows just how much mental health has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Here are some highlights showcasing the mental stress of the pandemic.

  • 48% are anxious about the possibility of getting coronavirus
  • 40% are anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from coronavirus
  • 62% are anxious about family and loved ones contracting coronavirus
  • 68% fear the outbreak will have a long-lasting impact on the economy
  • 59% say the outbreak is having a severe impact on their day-to-day lives
  • 19% say they’re having trouble sleeping because of the outbreak
  • 8% say they’re consuming more alcohol or drugs because of the outbreak
  • 12% say they’re fighting more with a partner or loved ones because of the outbreak
  • 24% say they’re having difficulty concentrating on other things because of the outbreak

It’s no surprise that healthcare visits for non-COVID related illnesses are down in 2020, but what is really at the center of delayed patient care? Is it still fear and lack of communication of safety protocols? Or is there something more concerning such as loss of job or coverage, or even worse, a higher mental health toll from the pandemic? What is causing this lost connection with patients, and how can healthcare encourage patients to reengage in their care through strategic patient outreach or technology?

Join us on Friday, September 11, at 12pm ET for a candid discussion.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:

T1: How has COVID-19 and the associated life changes impacted mental health? #HITsm

T2: Have you or a loved one delayed healthcare because of the pandemic? If so, why? (fear, financial, insurance loss? Dr. not seeing patients?) #HITsm

T3: How can healthcare providers encourage patients to seek care during the pandemic? #HITsm

T4: Have you seen any technologies or companies doing a great job of connecting with patients falling out of compliance, encouraging them to engage again in their care? #HITsm

T5: What should we do as an industry with patients who refuse to seek treatment? Let them fall out? Intervene? #HITsm

Bonus: What are some mental coping skills you have learned during the pandemic that you’d like to share with others? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule

9/18 – The Role of AI Technology in Healthcare and the Changes It Will Bring
Hosted by Stephanie Guadian (@StephanieG_ECG) and Alexia Severson (@AlexiaS_ECG) from @ElectronicCare

9/25 – Telehealth and Post Acute Care
Hosted by Dr. Jay LaBine (@labinejay) and Dr. Kris Smith from @naviHealthPAC

10/2 – TBD
Hosted by Brendan Keeler (@healthbjk) from @Redox

10/9 – What Do Patients Expect Now?
Hosted by Tim Dybvig (@timdybvig) from @ExperityHealth

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.