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Doctors fear patients avoiding care in covid-19 crisis

29 April 2020

Doctors are urging patients not to neglect their other health issues because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Since the lockdown, GPs have seen 50% fewer patients and specialists 80%, said Franck Devulder, president of the doctors’ union Spécialistes-CSMF.

He said: “We have said that we need to stay at home so much now that patients who need healthcare stay at home and put themselves at risk as their condition worsens.”

The CSMF says neglecting healthcare is especially dangerous for patients who have chronic diseases.

Luc Duquesnel, president of its GPs’ branch, said: “People are stressed about going out and catching the virus, and old people and those with chronic conditions have been targeted as those most at risk, so they are hesitant. They do not call doctors and do not want to go out to surgeries, despite the precautionary measures.”

He added: “At the end of confinement, we will face a rush in our practices, but what is more worrying is that patients’ health is worsening and they are falling behind in treatment.”

More deaths and health emergencies, such as heart attacks, are happening at home, he added.

Most patients are now seen in teleconsultation, he said, which can allow doctors to evaluate your state and, if necessary, offer face-to-face appointments or send out a nurse.

“When we have appointments, we can space them out. Social distancing is respected, we have masks and gels.”

Teleconsultation used more

Teleconsultation – previously more often talked about than used – has predictably seen a surge in use.

Many doctors are now consulting by phone or webcam. New legislation created a framework for how they can bill for such work and patients can be reimbursed.

Doctolib, a website and app for doctors’ appointments, is well set up for this, with the option for doctors to offer consultations via the site. You need a webcam, either built into a laptop or plugged into a USB port on your desktop. Turn off other programmes, such as Skype, that may be using it and make sure your antivirus/firewall does not block the site from accessing your camera.

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