woman speaking with doctor on telehealth appointment

2020 was a stressful year for people due to the concern of COVID-19. Whether it was from working to ordering food, many found a way to adapt from the comfort of their own homes. Even the way people seeked medical attention began to change. But just how different did it alter the way we look at our regular doctor visits?

The team at Weiss & Paarz conducted a survey of 1,900 people on how the pandemic affected their willingness to seek medical care. The average number of medical visits between 2019-2020 went down 17%. However, the ability to seek care from behind a screen took off. The average number of telehealth visits increased 18% and the percentage of people seeking telehealth increased from 48% in 2019 to 61% in 2020.

When asked to name their biggest concern about in-person healthcare, sharing physical space topped the list. 22% of the respondents said they were worried about sharing physical space with other patients, 19% with other people, and 11% with medical professionals. 10% of respondents said they were worried about general virus exposure while being outside of their home. Close to 28% were worried about sanitation procedures, whether in waiting rooms, relating to medical equipment, or mask and sanitizer usage.

People also had concerns when it came to telehealth as well. Nearly half (45%) of the survey participants said their biggest concern with telehealth was the lack of physical examination impacting diagnostic abilities. Over 17% said their biggest concern had to do with poor call connection that could impact information between the patient and doctor. Close to 12% said they were concerned about their call being recorded and falling into the wrong hands. 

Aside from traditional in-person care and telehealth, 69% of survey participants say they put off some kind of medical care because of COVID. Of that percentage, 29% say they put off care for at least a month before getting the attention needed, while nearly 35% say they have yet to reschedule their appointments. Looking further into the types of care that was put off, over 58% put off regular check-ups or physicals. 19% say they put off non-emergency diagnostic care, such as getting tests done or evaluated for an illness or injury.  13% suffered from an emergency and still put off getting treated. Of those that put off treatment, 33% say they put it off for 2-4 weeks.

Looking ahead, the participants were asked how long it would take for them to be as comfortable seeking medical attention as they were before the pandemic, once the virus is contained. 46% said it would take at least a month of COVID being under control for them to return to pre-pandemic comfort levels. 6% said it would take over a year, while over 16% say they’re already at their pre-pandemic comfort level.

Overall, the survey showed that seeking medical attention was another issue people faced during the pandemic. From seeking telehealth to just putting off their appointments, COVID changed the way people viewed their health.