Though optimism is on the rise among treating physicians, most see a long, drawn-out return to normalcy more than six months away
WATERTOWN, MA April 28, 2019—As countries wrestle with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, US physicians report sluggish optimism around preparedness, safety, and institutional efforts, while many worry about the future, including a second outbreak and job security. These findings are from the fourth wave of a COVID-19 tracking report on US frontline treating physicians, conducted and sourced by InCrowd, the pioneer for real-time, high-quality primary market intelligence for the life science industry.
“We’ve been cutting back on staff due to
overall revenue reductions, but have increased acuity and complexity, which
requires more staffing. This puts even more of a burden on those of us still
—Emergency Medicine & Critical Care Physician, TN
InCrowd’s research covers physician perceptions starting in January 2020, when the company first began investigating COVID-19’s impact on frontline treating physicians. Key findings from Wave 4 show that:
- Access to testing has jumped significantly since last month, now 82%, from 67% in March.
- Perceptions of preparedness have more than doubled this month, with 59% in April believing that their facilities are adequately prepared to treat COVID-19 patients—up from 24% in March.
- When asked about their facilities’ preparedness for a second outbreak later in the year, only 28% agreed strongly with this statement, while the majority (55%) expressed some level of confidence regarding preparedness for a second outbreak.
- On average, frontline healthcare respondents don’t expect things to return to normal for another six-plus months—around mid-October.
- Positive perceptions of the precautionary measures taken by local governments jumped significantly—up to 50%, from 21% in March.
- Physician concerns for their personal safety and that of loved ones remained high but stabilized—with personal safety concerns at 70% in March and 66% in April and safety of loved ones at 78% in both months.
- Forty-five percent of frontline treating physicians surveyed in April indicate fearing for the loss of their jobs. Verbatim remarks cite increased responsibilities at work due to resource, funding and staff shortages.
- Twice as many respondents in April, versus March, felt positively about bellwether COVID-19 public initiatives, such as:
- The effects of public/private synergy—now at 50%, from 21% in March
- Belief that the US can flatten the curve—up to 30%, from 12% in March, with 50% of respondents now believing the US is more likely than not to flatten the curve
- Percentages of overall patients with confirmed or suspected cases have more than doubled since March, from 8% to 21%.
- Among currently utilized COVID-19 mitigation strategies, those most likely to remain in place post-pandemic are telehealth (77%), exposure-limiting practices within facilities (50%), and phone triaging (48%).
“It’s good to see some optimism from the reports of our respondents on the frontlines of this crisis,” said Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO and president of InCrowd. “Since we began tracking in January, we’ve seen predominantly negative trend on most of our metrics. The implications of the pandemic are uniquely felt by those in the trenches. Frontline treaters are now facing new pressures, increasing numbers of COVID patients, fear of losing their jobs, and trying to adapt to telehealth and other care delivery solutions, among others. However, their growing confidence in local governments, testing, and preparedness should be inspiring for us all. We’ll continue to monitor this important topic by bringing the voice of the healthcare professional to light.”
The methodology and sampling of Wave 4 of InCrowd’s COVID-19 Frontline Treating Physicians’ Report is consistent with Waves 1 (n=150), 2 (n=150), and 3 (n=263), offering the sentiments of 203 frontline US physicians via a 10-minute MicroSurvey™ on April 14-15, 2020. Wave 4 frontline physicians included emergency medicine and critical care specialists (n=83), pediatricians (n=59), and primary care physicians (n=61), each of whom is treating 20 or more unique patients for flu-like symptoms.