When Will Patients Start Going Back to the Doctor?

How COVID-19 is Affecting Physician Visits and Patient Care

Last week, the New York Times published a story titled “The Pandemic’s Hidden Victims: Sick or Dying, but Not From the Virus” about how difficult it is to get care during the coronavirus pandemic, either because procedures are canceled, supplies are unavailable or people are too scared. The story covered life-saving treatments like cancer treatments, organ transplants, and neurosurgery. And it got us thinking:

If life-saving treatments are so hard to access, what about quality-of-life saving treatments?

We looked at Botox for chronic migraine to find out, at a drug level, just how unavailable treatments are to patients who really need it. Chronic migraine patients are severely debilitated, suffering from 15 or more migraine days a month. Stress and anxiety make migraines worse. But Botox is an in-office treatment, requiring patients to make a doctor visit to get the treatment. In these restricted times, are patients making the trip to the doctor’s office?

The data shows that stay-at-home orders have clearly affected chronic migraine patients’ access to relief.

  • Botox treatments for migraine held steady through January, February and early March.
  • For the two-week period of March 23 to April 5 of 2020, treatments declined by 58% compared to the two week period of February 24th to March 8th. Those suffering from chronic migraines are following states’ stay-at-home orders and choosing to not make doctor visits for their treatment.
  • These declines were experienced across every state, with some states showing declines of up to 88%.
  • In the time period of March 23 to April 5 there was a 45% increase in the total percentage of procedures performed by neurologists (vs. February 24th – March 8th), suggesting that the most severely affected are taking the potential risk and visiting medical facilities to receive treatment.

Swoop’s Data Visualization platform allows you to see these trends in nearly real time.

Stay-at-home orders have kept patients from seeking care across virtually every health category. But people will start going back to see the doctor to get their treatment, and we’ll know when that happens.

Knowing when to accelerate your marketing on a market by market basis will be critical to re-establishing brands’ market position and bringing patients back into compliance.

If you’re looking for data-driven insights to help you phase your marketing and educational initiatives back on, email me at [email protected].

Scott Rines is Chief Revenue Officer at Swoop.