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US Physicians Aren’t Confident About US Coronavirus Preparedness, According to InCrowd Data

February 13, 2020

While 65% say they don’t have access to a COVID-19 test kit, only 9% are very concerned; verbatim remarks citing media hype, emphasize the greater concern is flu

WATERTOWN, MA February 13, 2019—As the number of US novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19) cases increase, US physicians report a lack of confidence in their preparedness to treat COVID-19, and cite significant gaps in the healthcare system with testing and treatment. Findings are from new research conducted and sourced from InCrowd, the pioneer for real-time, high-quality primary market intelligence for the life science industry.

Two thirds (65%) of the physician respondents say they do not have access to a COVID-19 kit made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for laboratory testing. Only 9% feel confident they could identify a patient who has contracted COVID-19, where symptoms present as flu-like and common to other communicable diseases. Just one in four physicians feels very prepared to treat a patient that has potentially contracted COVID-19.

Yet the majority of physicians confirm that their practices are recommending protocols to follow for potentially affected patients. Though physicians report low levels of concern over the virus, they also note that their patients show higher levels of concern.

“Fast-moving pandemics like the novel coronavirus demand accurate and timely data from the frontlines of the healthcare system,” said Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO of InCrowd. “Real-time access through our insights platform to physician feedback on the coronavirus can help inform the next steps that healthcare leaders can take to mitigate its impact in the US. We’ll continue to track physician feedback on this important issue.”

While 75% of respondents note that their clinic or hospital has recommended a protocol for patients that could potentially have COVID-19, only 38% think the hospital(s) or facilities where they have privileges are prepared to treat people with the disease.

In terms of testing, physicians are being cautious. Seventy-two percent of responding physicians say if a patient traveled to a country where COVID-19 is prevalent, they would automatically want to test for the virus if the test were available.

However, only 9% of respondents rated themselves as being very concerned about COVID-19. No one among the respondents had seen a COVID-19 case.

In contrast, patient concerns appear to be higher, according to data from respondents. When asked whether their patients are very concerned about the novel Coronavirus, 28% of responding physicians said yes. Verbatim remarks cite high levels of hype.

“I’m not particularly concerned about it, however we are forced by media hype to feed into the fear,” reported a 42-year-old, male emergency medicine and critical care specialist.

“I try to emphasize to my patients that they should be more worried about the influenza virus,” noted a 36-year-old, female emergency medicine and critical care specialist.

Notably, 21% of US physicians say that their patients are more concerned about the threat of the flu, which has killed nearly 10,000 patients in the US this season alone.

On the healthcare system response to COVID-19, physicians are tepid. Only one in three respondents agrees that the US government is taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nearly half (45%) agree that the World Health Organization and governments outside of the US are taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

InCrowd’s COVID-19 research incorporated data from n=150 qualified, US physicians responding to a 5-minute MicroSurvey™ between January 31–February 4, 2020. These included emergency medicine or critical care specialists (53% or n=78), pediatricians (25% or n=27) and primary care physicians (23% or n=35), each of whom is treating 20 or more unique patients for flu-like symptoms.

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