Delayed Treatment Due to COVID-19 – Now What?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a devastating social and economic disruption. However, there is a factor less spoken about: delayed treatment due to COVID-19. This is an unprecedented challenge that the pandemic has caused in providing medical care for patients with conditions other than COVID-19. It has long been assumed that the driving forces preventing healthcare access was lack of health insurance and cost-associated barriers but new obstacles have emerged since the start of the pandemic. [1]

What Has Changed Since the Pandemic Began?

More than 40% of American adults have avoided or delayed receiving medical care because of the concerns about COVID-19, and people with multiple underlying conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, are significantly more likely to avoid urgent or emergency care compared to people without these conditions. [2]

Studies also showed that screenings for breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer dropped significantly during the pandemic. One analysis of Medicare claims representing about 5% to 7% of the population found that at the pandemic’s spring peak, breast cancer screening dropped by 85%, while colonoscopies dropped 75%. [3] These percentages are alarming since we know that delaying or avoiding medical care can increase morbidity and mortality due to chronic and acute health conditions.

The concerns about COVID-19 extended not only from contracting the virus but for the individuals who were laid off or faced other structural inequities. Over the last three quarters of 2020, it was estimated that 3.5 million people would become uninsured (and not gain coverage through other sources) due to COVID-19 related job losses, a situation that could be worse in states that did not expand Medicaid. [4]

Through the many months since COVID-19 began, hospitals and practices have seen the crisis of Americans delaying or avoiding treatment. As a result, they have tried to come up with new ways and innovations to help promote continued medical treatment. Healthcare systems and smaller practices have designed ways to market the message about not delaying medical care — from TV commercials to automated and personal telephone calls and texts to even billboard signs.

Changes in the law, and new innovations in healthcare from telehealth to wearables continue to shape life during the pandemic. Recently, the South Florida HIMSS hosted an in-depth Telehealth and Healthcare Innovations webinar with industry leading experts on the new innovations different areas of healthcare have been able to push out in order to find new ways to provide care while protecting the providers and patients during COVID-19:

Will You Be Ready to Handle the Aftereffects?

Although delayed treatment due to COVID-19 has continued, more and more people will begin to head back to their doctors for treatment and for their postponed elective surgeries. But will the healthcare systems and practices be ready for pre-COVID census or more?

The bottleneck that the return to care will bring may be great. These disruptions provide us with an opportunity to rethink many aspects of healthcare. It is important to adopt strategies that will allow the health systems to run operationally efficient and ethically sound. 

Before the pandemic, a provider spent two-thirds of their day completing the administrative tasks caused by EHR system use. When the census begins to increase, having support services in place for providers to handle the increased volume will be essential. By removing the documentation tasks, they will be able to see more patients and be as efficient as possible. During this time, physician burnout has only increased — providing leaders with the resources to increase physician retention rates is paramount. 

How Can We Combat Delayed Treatment Due to COVID-19?

As a company that is owned and operated by physicians, Scrivas is uniquely suited to understand the unique complexities that each specialty has with regards to documentation requirements.

From the time we begin scribing for the physicians we serve in large practices and hospitals, we are committed to providing the highest quality scribe service. This is why we do not charge for implementation or training costs. We firmly believe in only charging once we know we have reached the quality mark we give to all our other clients. The ROI is evident in both monetary and non-monetary value.

Let Scrivas take care of your physicians, so they can take care of your patients.


Written by: Nicole Bramblett, MHA