Complex disease patients have been forced to stay away from hospitals and their known disease managers – for fear of COVID-19 exposure.  This period where patients are “toughing it out” at home waiting on their planned treatment and where they cannot interact with their disease care team – will likely have a devastating effect on their acuity and on the programs that manage them.  The patients who were used to seeing their disease navigator or care manager and lead specialty physician at regular intervals are adrift.  Instead of a reliable care plan, they are trying to manage their disease with known disease control interventions such as medications and home-based self care such as diet, sleep, or exercise. Additionally, patients with disease symptoms – who have not yet been diagnosed – are putting off care and so when they can eventually present at the disease center or emergency department their acuity will be considerably higher.  It also does not escape notice that disease screenings are way down and there are reports that cancer and other chronic disease incidences will rise in the period after states reopen.

Recommended Reading: A Modern Healthcare (and Urban Institute poll) report finds that many patients are waiting to deal with acute conditions. Around 1 in 3 Americans are delaying medical care as they cope with the financial losses and stress caused by COVID-19 new studies show.  “The pandemic has shed a spotlight on long-standing inequities that have taken a toll on low-income Americans and people of color,” Mona Shah, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the Urban Institute survey, said in prepared remarks. “If families are unable to stay in their homes, can’t afford food, or have to skip needed medical care, this crisis will worsen the already enormous problem of inequality in America.”