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COVID-19: The Ever-Changing Healthcare Environment and Patient Experience

Over the past few months, we have seen just how rapidly our way of life can change. In addition to adapting to our new way of living and working, physicians have had to make drastic changes to the type of care they can deliver. Recently, Olympus administered a survey to understand patient  expectations and feelings towards the evolving nature of healthcare. 

Respondents with pre-existing health conditions and the general health populations were polled in a ten-question survey administered through SurveyMonkey. Through the survey, it was determined: 

Most Patients Are Not Ignoring Symptoms 

In April, it was reported that patients are delaying their medical procedures, skipping doctor visits and avoiding hospitals due to fear of contracting COVID. In our May survey, we sought some clarity on the subject as fears rose among health care providers that patients might be ignoring symptoms of what could be serious conditions, and we discovered a silver lining: 86% of respondents from the general health population said they are not ignoring symptoms of what could be a serious condition because of fears of contacting COVID-19 while visiting a doctor’s office or hospital, while more than half of respondents did voice concerns about being exposed to COVID-19 or other illnesses if they were to need surgery now or in the future.

Survey results showing patients are not ignoring their symptoms for fear of contracting COVID-19 at the doctors office or hospital

When Seeking Care, Patients See Telemedicine as a Viable Alternative

Survey data showing respondents see Telemedicine as a viable alternative to seeing their physician in person

Technology has played a major role in our shift to quarantine-mode.  We have learned to rely on technology to order our groceries, attend work meetings, catch up with friends, and even “attend” our doctor’s appointments. Given our newfound understanding of and comfort relying on technology to complete day-to-day tasks, it does not come as a shock that, more than 63% of respondents think healthcare providers should offer virtual appointments, whenever possible, and they will ask their doctors if they have a telemedicine platform available should pandemic conditions prevail.While telemedicine applications have been available for years, they were never a first choice for physicians or their patients. However, we have seen a significant increase in use since the beginning of the pandemic. Our survey indicated that the way telemedicine is delivered makes a difference.

Three out of four respondents agree that having the ability to see their physician via a telemedicine platform would ease their worries, even if they were not able to treat them.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits were considered unnecessary or were determined to be handled safely and effectively by  phone or video.[1] Now that we are amidst a virtual culture shift, physicians can be expected to have some sort of telemedicine platform available to their patients. This should not come as a shock, however, as the telemedicine market is expected to see a growth rate of 17.85% from 2020 to 2025.[2]

When Patients Need to be Screened Or Seek Treatment, They Want Doctors To Offer More Availability 

Since March, thousands of elective procedures deemed “non-essential” were postponed and cancelled. Now that non-essential procedures have been given the green light to start up again, more than 67% of respondents say they would appreciate it if physician hours and services were extended during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the backlog of appointments, respondents recommend:

  • Healthcare providers offer virtual appointments, whenever possible. (63% of respondents)  
  • Prioritizing procedures so some can be schedules sooner than others. (63% of respondents)   
  • Hiring additional healthcare staff. (49% of respondents) 
  • Offering extended office hours, including 24x7 care. (44% of respondents) 
  • Partnering with smaller facilities. (41% of respondents) 
Survey data showing respondents would appreciated if physicians offer increased availability  through telemedicine visits and extended office hours

The Evolution of Patient Healthcare Expectations 

Survey responses showed the growing understanding and flexibility towards the type of care they receive. It is clear that patients are not ignoring their symptoms for fear of COVID, they are prioritizing general access to healthcare via telemedicine, and they expect greater access to healthcare now that hospitals and doctor’s offices are performing more procedures.

[1] “How Telemedicine Is Revolutionizing Health Care,” Healthcare News & Insights, September 26, 2016,

[2] “Telemedicine Market Growth Is Thriving Due to the Impact of COVID-19,” MarketWatch (MarketWatch, July 8, 2020),


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