Arlington, VA, April 28, 2020—A quantitative survey of more than 5,700 patients with chronic conditions, conducted by Arlington, Virginia-based HealthiVibe, shows that 50% of those already in poor health believe the quality of their medical care is worse or much worse now, only a short time after the adoption of strict social distancing and self-isolation measures in the United States in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the survey highlight the unique challenges faced by those with chronic conditions in the current environment, and suggest a possible long-term impact on an already overtaxed healthcare infrastructure.
More than 133 million Americans (45% of the population) live with a chronic condition. The Coronavirus pandemic and its fallout are having a disproportionate effect on these patients, even when they don’t contract the virus themselves. In addition to managing their own illnesses, they’re managing medication shortages and delays, a lack of caregiver support due to social distancing measures, and the additional burden of mounting anxiety and depression that self-isolation—and the concerns that come with having a compromised immune system—can impose.
The survey was fielded online from March 31 through April 10, and included respondents with a wide range of chronic and rare conditions. Respondents were asked about the current state of their health, missed healthcare visits, prescription challenges, use of and openness to telemedicine services, and general concerns in light of the current disrupted healthcare environment.
Two-thirds of those surveyed reported having more health concerns in general because of the COVID-19 crisis, and while a significant majority (72%) had seen no change yet in the quality of their medical care, the trends surrounding prescription challenges and missed healthcare visits suggest more problems to come.
Overall, 26% say they’re having trouble filling prescriptions, but that number is significantly higher (42%) for those already in poor health, who are often dealing with multiple comorbidities and have more prescription needs. And not all conditions are equal. With the increased demand for off-label use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in recent weeks, for example, more than half of those with lupus reported challenges getting their medication. And while drug availability is a big factor, 32% said they simply had no way to pick up their prescriptions.
More than two-thirds (68%) of survey respondents overall said they have more health concerns because of COVID-19, and of that number, more than half report feelings of anxiety, worry or stress.
“What we’re seeing already is rising anxiety,” said Abbe Steel, MSc, CEO of HealthiVibe. “That’s especially the case among those we surveyed in poorest health. Many of these patients are already immunocompromised. They’re missing checkups, clinical trial visits, lab tests, stress tests, even surgeries in some cases. The longer that goes on, the more at risk they’ll be. And we’re still in the early stages of all of this.”
The numbers also underscore a growing need for more widely available telemedicine services. Home delivery of prescriptions is used by less than a third (31%) of all respondents. Only 38% of respondents say they’ve received even telephone support from a healthcare professional, and 25% have used videoconferencing in place of in-person physician visits.
The survey was fielded with the assistance of Rare Patient Voice and CureClick, two patient-centric organizations. The full report is available on the HealthiVibe website.
HealthiVibe, a Division of Corrona, LLC, uses a systematic, evidence-based process to help pharmaceutical clients spearhead patient engagement initiatives at every stage of the product lifecycle. We leverage innovative, co-creation models and global online analytic platforms to provide our clients the tools and the expertise to gather, analyze and apply deep patient insights to optimize clinical trials and enhance overall product commercialization efforts. Learn more at HealthiVibe.com.