Medical Distancing Myths – Cause and Effect

Here we are; six months into the worst pandemic in a century. We have learned how to protect ourselves, how to adapt our behaviors and what matters the most in our lives.

In the process, our caution and new behaviors have had unintended consequences in – of all places – our health and well-being. Foregoing medical care to adhere to medically-recommended social distancing recommendations is known as medical distancing and it can have serious consequences.

Whether it is the virus itself, the fear of the virus, or the fear of the unknown, patients have taken medical distancing to a concerning level.

“We have seen between a 40 and 50 percent decrease of patient visits,” said Dr. Dearing. “The safest places right now are actually healthcare facilities. The precautions we are taking are much better than anywhere else and providers need to remind their patients that they are safe at their facilities and that prevention and wellness cannot be neglected.”

 

Chronic Conditions Cannot Be Put Off

“When the medical world doesn’t, or can’t, intervene for people with chronic diseases or conditions, these diseases progress and patients get into trouble,” said James Dearing, DO, partner at Synergy Physicians.

Chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease impact about 60 percent of American’s according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with about 40 percent of American’s living with more than one chronic disease.

“Because of the physical distancing and the fear of a very real and potentially dangerous virus, we have patients jeopardizing their health daily,” said Dr. Dearing. “Two of my diabetic patients who were stabilized became too afraid to go to the pharmacy and pick up prescriptions. Both of these patients ended up hospitalized in serious condition with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Thankfully they didn’t contract COVID-19, but if they had, it would have been exponentially harder to recover from either.”

 

Now More Than Ever: Routine Care is Essential

In a study published with the National Institutes of Health, a global survey found most providers experienced a change in their patient’s routine care, with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension being the conditions most impacted due to reduced care. However, the study also found that 80 percent of providers reported patients having worsened mental health during the pandemic with social distancing.

The adverse mental health outcomes providers are seeing right now is significant. In a study by the CDC, they found that during June, 40 percent of adults in the U.S. reported struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse.

“Throughout this pandemic, only a handful of things will impact us all and the lack of human contact is one of them,” explained Dr. Dearing. “Human contact and relationships are vital to us as a species, and going without that leads to other problems. We are seeing spikes of depression in people who have never experienced major depression before. People don’t like change in their life and so many of our habits have had to change.”

“Everyone needs prevention; kids need well child visits and vaccines, expectant mothers need prenatal visits, everyone needs to work on their wellness however that looks for them,” said Dr. Dearing. “Patients and providers are going through a tough time together. As providers, we are going to continue to do our part to ensure you stay healthy.”

 

Necessity Drives Telehealth Solutions

It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. What providers and patients are experiencing provides urgency for proactive healthcare, precautions by patients and providers, and healthcare innovations.

“Synergy is different than most standard healthcare practices, because along with primary care, disease management and men’s and women’s health like most facilities, we put significant importance on overall wellness,” said Dr. Dearing. “We offer preventative and wellness services, yoga, fitness and sleep therapy because we know that health should address all aspects of an individual.”

Telehealth has seen a significant and expected uptick since March of 2020 compared to previous years. According to FAIR Health4 an independent nonprofit that collects and manages data for the nation’s largest health insurance claims and Medicare Parts A, B and D, showed a national increase of 4,347 percent in virtual care for March 2020 compared with March 2019.

“While virtual visits are a critical part of healthcare today, telehealth is so much more than that,” said Dr. Dearing. “We were doing telemedicine before COVID and have our own app that helps internalize patient care even at home. Patients input data like weight, blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar and so we can monitor real time data.”

Synergy Health was one of the providers to take telehealth a step further by developing this app. Their goal was to help facilitate a smoother continuation of care for patients, citing siloed approaches throughout the medical field, Synergy Health offers an inclusive platform and practice.

So why put off a wellness exam or physical any longer? Synergy Health is here to help.

Schedule your appointment today!

 

Author
Synergy Health A collaborative team of physicians and content contributors.

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