Worry is mounting among PCPs about what’s coming after the initial COVID-19 pandemic wave, suggest results from week 8 of the Primary Care Collaborative’s Primary Care & COVID-19 Survey.
The Primary Care Collaborative released the Primary Care & COVID-19: Week 8 Survey results with 773 physicians who participated from 49 states between May 1, 2020 and May 4, 2020. The majority of respondents specialize in family medicine (70%), followed by internal medicine (11%), pediatrics (7%), and geriatrics (6%). What did the primary care physicians (PCPs) have to say about their COVID-19 experience? Find out in the slides below.
"New normal" disruptive for PCPs. Over 75% of respondents reported suffering from severe or close to severe stress and 54% reported they have no personal protective equipment. Fourty percent of physician respondents reported office absensces due to illness/self-quarantine and 70% said they continue to see >50% derease in patient volume compared to before the pandemic.
Physicians worry about post-pandemic life. Over 70% of respondents said they expect high patient volume related to delayed chronic, preventive, and mental health care; 30% expect a rise in substance use among patients; 24% expect a rise in domestic violence-related harm among patients; 66% worry about health risk and burdens created by reopening the US economy too early; and 74% expect to see a rise in patients with mental health needs.
Delayed care may have serious long-term impact. PCPs expressed concern over delayed care due to COVID-19 that might have serious long-term repercussions with 61% of respondents who said some of patients will experience avoidable illness due to diverted or avoided care. Over one-third of respondents (38%) believe that there will be non-COVID-19 deaths among their patients after the pandemic ends stemming from diverted or avoided care and 56% believe the primary care system will be overwhelmed once the pandemic with pent up demand.
“It has been the most stressful time of my 20-year career. Trying to care for pts with high-quality care, provide safe environment for our staff and maintaining a financially viable practice. Very much considering leaving clinical medicine.” Colorado
Gaps beginning to show in virtual care. Virtual health has expanded quickly, but PCPs still report some challenges they are facing with 84% who said they have patients who cannot use virtual health because they do not have access to a computer or internet. Over one-quarter of physicians (28%) said they rely on majority use of video; 14% rely on majority use of e-visits; and 28% conduct the majority of "telehealth" visits by phone. Also, 29% of practices reported no use of video visits and 9% reported no use of e-visits.
“It has been more difficult to connect to 'underserved' patients with limited ability to manage virtual care. These relationships are stressed, and trust may erode if we cannot adapt to better serve them.” Michigan
Patients and providers losing trust. Physicians fear that patients' are losing trust in the health care system and physicians' own trust may be as well. One-quarter of respondents (25%) anticipate the pandemic will result in public losing trust in the medical profession, 32% fear lost trust in our safety-net systems, and 60% fear the limited policy shifts enacted to help primary care during the first pandemic wave will be reversed.
Is a shift in primary care imminent? Survey results highlighted growing fears among PCPs of a near-complete market consolidation related to financial repercussions of COVID-19 with 35% of respondents who believe that the majority of independent primary care practices will be gone by the time the pandemic ends.