A new survey reports that 83% of patients would be distressed if they lost this trusted relationship. As COVID-19 cases surge and practices close, patients are uneasy about even more.
Since the beginning of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have reported their highest 7-day average of new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases since the pandemic began, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. This rise is just new fuel for uneasy feelings among patients about returning to their primary care physician's office or avoiding care altogether. To further understand the impact of COVID-19 on primary care patients, the Primary Care Collaborative surveyed 2250 patients aged ≥18 years via a public online posting.
Find out what patients had to say about the use of digital health care, their relationship with their primary care provider, mental health during COVID-19, and more.
Patients still concerned about reopening the country. Half of respondents felt certain the country should remain closed vs 22% who said they agreed it should open. Over one-quarter (28%) of respondents said they were either unsure or felt certain conditions (capacity for testing, contract tracing, reduced infection rates) must be met to reopen.
Patients value having a relationship with their physician. Eighty three percent of patients said they would feel distressed at the loss of a relationship with their physician, 17% would feel panicked, 17% would be heartbroken, and 37% would feel the loss of someone they trust.
Patients greatly favor connection with their doctor. Nearly three-quarters of patients (72%) reported they have a usual source of care and a physician they can trust and 63% think it is important that their physician knows them as a person; an additional 21% said they would prefer being known in this way. Over half of patients (57%) said they feel connected to their physician; 61% feel safe asking the doctor anything; 66% feel the doctor helps them make sense of what is going on with them; and 54% said that simply seeing the doctor makes them feel better.
Ver batim: “I do not want to burden the healthcare system, specifically my primary care provider with anything less than serious. They have enough to worry about and I'm doing my part delaying because they think it’s best for their PCP.”
Two-thirds of patients have been in contact with primary care over the past 8 weeks, averaging 1.6 contacts/patient. Also, 73% reported contact with their practice resulted from practice outreach to check on patients. The modes of contact between care team and patients varied with 58% on the phone, 21% video based, 18% based in secure messaging and patient portals, and 21% were in person.
Digital platforms can help, but also create obstacles. Approximately 7 in 10 patients said they prefer in-person care and 29% said they don't have the required broadband access to support most digital health care platforms. Also, 28% said they don't have tablets or computers at home to support digital health care and 26% felt they lacked data plans sufficient to accommodate use of digital health. One-third of patients said they were uncomfortable with digital care (18% video; 12% phone); 8% started a video-based visit that was converted to phone after the video didn't work; and 12% were uncomfortable with phone-based visits.
Ver batim: “I greatly appreciated my doc proactively sending out at email to all his patients at the beginning and twice since letting us know the concerns with our specific chronic illness and what we need to do to protect ourselves. This has a lot to do with why I trust him so much.”
Patient reasons for contacting primary care raise concerns. Over the previous 8 weeks:
Patients were asked to rank order 6 common settings for primary care and the settings in rank order were as follows: