Giving Compass' Take:

• According to a new study, there has been a decrease in patients' non-COVID-19-related doctor's visits since the beginning of the pandemic.

• What are the implications of this decline for patient health? 

• Learn what coronavirus revealed about our primary care system. 

The US health care system has focused on providing life-saving care for COVID-19 patients. States closed non-essential activities and people curtailed interactions outside their homes to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“A combination of private responses and public policies related to the epidemic likely affected the way people use the health care system for conditions unrelated to COVID-19,” says Kosali Simon, professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington and coauthor of a new study published online as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“This is the first look at how different state policies affected non-COVID-19 outpatient health care, as a way to understand what actions might be needed to protect all of health care as we continue living through the pandemic.”

The findings show that overall, non-COVID-19 doctor visits declined about 40% during the first six weeks or so of the pandemic, from early March to mid-April.

State policies ordering people to stay at home and closing non-essential businesses played a substantial role, reducing outpatient visits about 15% in the first two weeks of the shutdown.

The negative impact varied by type of care, according to the study. Visits associated with heart disease declined dramatically, as did outpatient visits for diabetes and various cancers.

Read the full article about decrease in non-COVID-19 doctor visits by Mary Keck at Futurity.