COVID-19 Takes a Toll on High-Need US Patients, With More Reporting Telehealth’s Adverse Impact, According to InCrowd

Telehealth has adversely impacted quality of care for over a quarter of patients, up from 5% in March;
only 9% will get COVID-19 vaccine once approved; just 11% say US government is taking needed precautions

WATERTOWN MA October 30, 2020—Substantially more US patients with chronic, high-need conditions say telehealth visits have adversely impacted their quality of care, with both patients and physicians predict telehealth use to decline by roughly one-third its fall 2020 levels. While more than half of the patients plan to vote early or by mail and to get seasonal flu shots, only 9% of patients say they will get a COVID-19 shot in the first six months once approved in the US—and only 11% say they believe the Federal government is taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Data are from research conducted by InCrowd, the pioneer for real-time, high-quality primary market intelligence for the life science industry, with patient perspectives sourced in partnership with Rare Patient Voice.

“High-need patients are sharing strong concerns about how pandemic adaptations have negatively impacted their disease management, data the healthcare industry should take seriously,” said Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO and president of Apollo Intelligence, parent firm to InCrowd. “While their perceptions of treatment obstacles due to COVID-19 have improved since May, patient concerns related to health and safety haven’t, and for nearly a quarter of them, telehealth isn’t meeting their needs. InCrowd is continually monitoring these trends and vulnerable populations.”

InCrowd’s Wave 3 of its Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Patient Tracking Report showed that nearly a quarter of high-need patients responding in October 2020 said that telehealth and the shift to virtual visits have adversely impacted their disease management, up from 5% in March. Patient audiences include individuals who suffer from diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune illnesses.

Despite 72% of high-need patients saying they are currently using telehealth now, only 51% plan to continue use after the need for pandemic precautions subside. Their plans for less telehealth use align with separate InCrowd US physician research conducted in September 2020 when physicians reported that telehealth visits would drop from 37% now to 24% post-pandemic.

When considered alongside recent data, including Commonwealth Fund’s analysis showing that specialists treating the high-need conditions in InCrowd’s report are seeing up to 20% fewer weekly patient visits than their pre-pandemic baseline, Wave 3 data present a mixed report on disease management adaptations for this at-risk community.

On a positive note, only 21% percent indicate treatment impediments in October, as compared to 32% percent six months ago, although many concerns tracked since InCrowd’s Wave 1 study remain unchanged since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Key among them the perception by only 11% of respondents that the Federal government is taking strong precautions to contain COVID-19.

At the same time, these high-need patients are making cautious personal choices. Sixty percent said they plan to use absentee ballots in the upcoming national election, and 68% have already obtained a seasonal flu shot, or plan to do so. Yet only 9% plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is approved, with a quarter planning to wait six-months post-approval before receiving it, and nearly half (46%) planning to wait a year or more. Twenty percent of respondents do not plan to receive it at all, due to their condition or overall perceptions about vaccinations.

“If I can reduce my chances of catching it by other means, I will do so, and let the ‘early adopters’ provide the data to scientists about side effects, safety, and long term effects,” said a 54-year old with MS from West Virginia who intends to wait a year for a COVID-19 vaccine.

I am in a high-risk group (age and disease). I think the potential benefit of a vaccine will outweigh the risks,” reported a 71-year old with diabetes from Texas who intends to get a vaccine immediately.

InCrowd’s Wave 3 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Patient Report included perceptions of n=152 patients, including n=85 mild to moderately affected patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and migraines, and n=68 moderate to severely impacted patients with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or cancer. Respondents answered a 10-minute MicroSurvey via InCrowd’s mobile platform on October 7-8, 2020. InCrowd’s Physician Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring Report included perceptions of n=215 US physicians including primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists including psychiatrists, pediatricians, neurologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, and hematologist/oncologists. They responded to a four-minute MicroSurvey on September 1-2, 2020.