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Role of primary care physicians during the pandemic

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decline in health care utilisation across settings and specialities. This has led to rising concern among healthcare professionals. This delayed primary care may lead to an increase in preventive illness. As a result of this, many primary care practices are quickly adapting. They are offering virtual care for issues such as mental health and management of chronic illness. However, patient uptake has not been satisfactory, especially in rural regions. Lack of reliable internet connections and awareness are the primary reasons for this. Many patients have opted to either delay or forgo primary care.

How physicians are responding to the pandemic

Timothy Hoff, professor of Management, Healthcare System, and Health Policy at Northeastern University, seeks to answer how doctors in different communities are responding to the pandemic. He is following many doctors of New York to study how they adapted and are continuing to adapt to a new reality in healthcare. The resilience shown by the physicians struck him. For instance, in a rural area of New York, the healthcare staff installed a Wi-Fi hotspot in the parking lot of their clinic. It will help patients with unreliable internet access at home to have virtual appointments with the staff inside the building.

Hoff is also tracking the mental and emotional states of physicians. Working with a smaller staff for longer hours, these doctors are managing their physiological states, including anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout. The study will shed light on evolving complex relationships between patients and primary care physicians. It will also give an insight into the way doctors use technology to reach their patients.

Hospital staff all over the world is struggling to accommodate the COVID-19 patients. Therefore, primary care physicians are innovating different ways to provide health care and adapting to different technologies to keep their practices afloat financially.


Kriti Vishwakarma