The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way healthcare is handled and delivered the world over. This is mainly because healthcare workers are taking extra precautions to avoid the transmission of the virus to their patients. In addition, people are also making fewer hospital visits fearing they will get in contact with sick patients and therefore end up contracting the virus themselves. This is just a snippet of some of the ways in which this pandemic has affected healthcare. Below, we will look at some other ways it has done so.
There have been disruptions on the funding and treatment of certain diseases as countries turn all their focus to curbing the spread of the virus. According to a WHO survey carried out in May 2020, 53% of all countries surveyed said they have seen disruption in funding for hypertension, diabetes, cancer treatment, and cardiovascular diseases and emergencies.
Over 63% of the countries surveyed also say they have scaled back on rehabilitation which is a crucial service in the recovery of certain patients, such as those who have been in accidents.
Impact on Management of Non-Communicable Diseases
There is also widespread disregard for patients with non-communicable diseases. For example, 94% of the countries surveyed in the WHO survey above say they have reassigned many of the healthcare workers who usually work with noncommunicable disease patients.
There is also wide postponement of the screening of non-communicable diseases for many of the reasons why major healthcare systems are down right now. These include cancellations by patients, decreased availability of transportation options to hospitals, and lack of staff who have been reassigned.
Fewer Hospital Visits
In the early days of the pandemic, there was a massive decline in the number of people visiting healthcare facilities. The biggest percentage came from people who only required checks such as those requiring an annual wellness visit.
As countries recover, there has been a rebound in this number, but the number is still 66% lower than what was recorded before the beginning of the pandemic.
Demand for Telemedicine Services
Since people were reluctant to visit hospitals and doctors feared more people getting infected, several healthcare providers turned to telemedicine. For patients who need an Annual Wellness Visit, doctors are turning to software like ChartSpan that will help them assess their patient’s needs and formulate a healthcare plan, all without the patients visiting a healthcare facility. The software developers in charge of these technology solutions have made these software solutions easy to use for everyone and accessible on mobile platforms.
Psychological Effects on Healthcare Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed great psychological stress, anxiety, and pressure on healthcare workers. This is for two reasons. One, healthcare workers do not want to be transmitters of the disease, and they have to stay conscious of the fact that they could become one at any time. Second of all, healthcare workers are afraid of getting infected because they work with sick patients all the time.
This level of stress and anxiety has affected the way healthcare workers render their services. This has led to a huge decline in the quality of services offered at many healthcare facilities.
Impact on Expectant Parents
Because of the reduced contact between healthcare providers and their patients, prenatal care has been affected. The main reason for this is that parents-to-be prefer to stay at home and minimize the risk to themselves and their babies.
To help keep things going, obstetricians are opting to schedule fewer in-person checkups and meetings, and instead turning to telemedicine.
There are also understandable concerns about the transmission of the virus from the mother to the baby during and after delivery. Because of this, incidences have arisen where the mother is separated from their baby as soon as they deliver. This could impact bonding and breastfeeding in the first hours, something that is crucial for both the mother and the baby.
Partners are also raising concerns because many healthcare facilities have limited access to the delivery room. Because of this, partners may not be able to offer support to their partners or even visit the maternity room.
Backlog of Health Procedures
With fewer people visiting doctors and even many more postponing procedures, there is a looming backlog of procedures in the healthcare system. This means there will be a massive strain on the healthcare system once this pandemic comes to an end and people flood the hospitals to get the health care they did not during the pandemic.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in healthcare. The risk is that there are a lot of people contracting diseases and suffering from chronic and non-communicable diseases who might not get the treatments they need due to fears of contracting the disease. The healthcare system must prepare itself for the massive number of people who will require help for other diseases once the pandemic passes.