There is growing concern among many well-respected providers about the consequences of fewer preventive services over the past 1½ years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As patients slowly start to resume care throughout 2021 and into 2022, experts predict we will see a spike in the number of severe or late-stage diagnoses that normally would have been caught much earlier. As a result, we may face more complex situations and costlier treatments in terms of their economic, physical, and mental health impact.
Cancer cases make an excellent illustration. People have not come in for recommended colonoscopies, mammograms, and other cancer screening exams during the pandemic. By the time they do, it is possible that any tumors found will be well established. Unsurprisingly but no less sadly, providers who have been resuming screenings are seeing more late-stage and terminal cancer cases.
At the same time, we cannot overlook the fact that the pandemic has also amplified long-standing disparities within the U.S. healthcare system. Social determinants of health (SDOH) such as food insecurity, job or housing uncertainty, and medical deserts can affect a staggering 80 percent of patient outcomes. These types of SDOH only compound the impact of care delays and make it harder for providers to deliver quality care.
Dr. Joe Nicholson is the CMO of CareAllies. Check out the CareAllies Exhibit Booth!