A survey conducted by apex healthcare industry body NATHEALTH among the patients of private hospitals across India has found that 57 per cent of the respondents had cancelled, postponed or rescheduled their treatment plan during the first Covid-19 wave March-December 2020 period. While 100 per cent of the elective surgery patients did it, 34 per cent of OPD patients cancelled or rescheduled their OPD visits to the hospitals during the period.
According to the survey, 62 per cent of the respondents who cancelled or postponed their treatment believed that their health condition had been negatively impacted. While 82 per cent of them wished to reschedule or return to their treatment plan by June 2021, 95 per cent wished to continue their treatment with the same hospital.
The survey was conducted in Jan-Feb 2021 with a sample size of 2,134 patients with different treatment needs across metros, tier 1 and tier 2 geographical settings in India. The findings of the survey is part of a report on the "Impact of COVID-19 on patient behaviour towards accessing healthcare facilities" released by NATHEALTH.
The survey said that 50 per cent of the respondents engaged in tele-consultations with their healthcare providers during the complete lockdown phase last year. However, of the patients who cancelled or postponed their treatment, only 2 per cent opted for home healthcare services and 98 per cent medically managed their condition at home with doctor's advice.
Commenting on the findings, Harsh Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH and Founder and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, said that in the last few weeks, continued focus on COVID tests and treatments have once again reduced attention on non communicable diseases, non-COVID surgeries, treatments and consultations by private healthcare providers. "It is vital for healthcare delivery centres to communicate to patients to not delay their treatment and avail non-COVID services related to tests, screenings and consultations. A delay will only lead to further health complications in the midst of the ongoing pandemic by resulting in another catastrophe. Patients must be made aware that they can opt for e-consults and professional at home healthcare services", Mahajan added. Incidentally, only 2 per cent respondents had said that they had opted for e-consultations and home healthcare last year.
The report suggests that one should adopt data intelligence algorithm processes to prioritise patient profiles. Also, zero contact consultations must be made common and should differentiate patients for tele-consult services versus patients who require in-person appointments.