Survey: Patients with Chronic Conditions Negatively Impacted by COVID-19

June 3, 2020
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with chronic illnesses are facing challenges around accessing services and care management, but many are now also more committed to managing their own health

A survey released on Wednesday, June 3 has uncovered challenges facing patients with chronic conditions in the U.S., because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with delays in services and challenges in obtaining support for managing their diseases, among the pandemic’s major effects.

The Boston-based Wellframe, a digital health management solutions company, today released the findings of its “COVID-19 Chronic Condition Patient Population Report,” which polled 884 patients with chronic conditions via a third-party provider.

As the company noted in a press release published on Wednesday morning, “Currently, six out of 10 adults in the U.S manage at least one chronic condition. Care for this population is one of the most significant drivers of the nation’s annual healthcare costs, which topped $3.5 trillion in 2018.  The survey focused on respondents managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, and the findings show that COVID-19 has significantly impacted their ability to manage their conditions. The results also shine a light on multiple opportunities to better support this vulnerable patient population.”

The survey found the following:

Ø More than half (57 percent) of respondents have delayed receiving healthcare services due to the pandemic – at either their own discretion or that of their doctor – and one in four (26 percent) patients have had trouble accessing their doctor.

Ø  Additionally, more than half of respondents (52 percent) report that they have not been provided a healthcare regimen by their doctor to effectively manage their condition, and more than one third (38 percent) are not fully confident in their ability to manage their chronic condition.

Ø  When respondents were asked if they were familiar with the term care management before the survey, more than one third (37 percent) said they were not. This suggests a critical opportunity to raise awareness for services that can assist chronic condition patients during these difficult times. 

 Still, the survey found, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans living with chronic conditions are motivated to take better control of managing their health. When surveyed on the appeal of using virtual care management as a solution to support health regimen adherence, respondents were strongly in favor: 

Ø  A majority of chronic condition patients (74 percent) indicated that the pandemic has motivated them to take better control of managing their health.

Ø  More than two thirds (68 percent) think access to virtual support from a care management team would help them to more effectively adhere to their prescribed healthcare regimen. This includes 61 percent of people over 45 years old and 79 percent of people under 29 years old, implying broader adoption by younger generations but broad appeal across generations.

Ø  Meanwhile, 66 percent of respondents (and 74 percent of those under the age of 29) would use a virtual care management team to manage mental health difficulties brought about by COVID-19.

“Wellframe provides health plans the capability to extend care beyond the health system by identifying, engaging, and monitoring individuals who are managing chronic conditions,” said Jacob Sattelmair, CEO and co-founder of Wellframe, in a statement contained in the press release. “It is more imperative than ever for healthcare organizations to deploy virtual support for this vulnerable population, and health plans are in a unique position to be able to do so.”

 What’s more, the press release noted, “As the emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt for months to come, health plans will have an important role to play in providing care management services for the chronic patient population to ensure their physical and mental wellbeing is addressed. As healthcare moves toward a value-based model, collaboration between providers and health plans will be essential to holistic management of chronic disease.” 

“The data collected from this survey demonstrates that the comorbid population is struggling to access care in a time when it’s most needed,” said Dr. Trishan Panch, Wellframe’s chief medical officer, in a statement included in the press release. “This begs the question: how can the healthcare system best support this population moving forward? How can providers and health plans work together and deploy technologies to ensure improved treatment for this population? Both our COVID-19 environment and the survey data has elucidated many telling obstacles and insights that warrant further exploration from the healthcare ecosystem, and we look forward to being part of that conversation.”