Article written by Robin Stride and originally published on Independent Practitioner Today, 8th December 2020
Private doctors are being advised today to rethink their marketing to cater for people who have delayed getting medical help due to Covid-19 fears.
Worries about contracting the virus have made as many as 29% of people avoid seeing a doctor or going to hospital despite having a known medical condition, according to results of research this week.
Zegami, an Oxford-based medical image analysis platform, says its research reveals that as many as 254,000 people with cancer may have avoided seeking help. Zegami has recently developed a system to analyse large numbers of mammograms and identify abnormalities
It also found that 16% of people believe they have developed a medical condition since the Coronavirus crisis started but decided not to see a doctor.
Again, this was because of fears about Covid-19. Some 101,000 people believe their condition could be cancer, it believes.
A private practice marketing expert called the figures ‘terrible’ and told Independent Practitioner Today that private consultants and GPs should gear up to promote their services to thousands of ‘the missing’.
Jane Braithwaite, managing director at Designated Medical, said: ‘We know people are not getting the treatment they need or getting diagnosed. There will be patients searching for private doctors to look after them because the NHS is playing catch-up.
‘Independent doctors need to think how they can get the message over of what they can offer to patients. People will be anxious about costs and treatment because they’ve been NHS in the past.
‘Private doctors, clinics and hospitals need to acknowledge the issues, recognise patients may be looking at their websites for the first time and reassure how they will look after these patients.
‘It needs to be about giving the best care and managing the cost of it. A doctor who wants to get the message across needs to say they are aware of the cost fears and, acknowledging this is a concern, demonstrate they will offer a service that makes it a worthwhile investment.’
Of those people who believe they have developed medical conditions during the crisis but have not sought a medical diagnosis for fear of catching Covid-19, 22% say it is linked to their mental health, followed by 13% who say it is a skin condition.
Some 7% fear they have developed a heart condition during the crisis and 1% – nearly 101,000 people – think they may have cancer, says Zegami.
Chief executive Roger Noble said: ‘Our findings are very alarming.’
Zegami commissioned the market research company Consumer Intelligence to survey 1,021 people from across the UK, representing the UK’s demographic profile. Interviews were conducted online between 13 and 16 November 2020.
|Medical condition||Estimated number of adults in the UK who have been diagnosed with this medical condition but have avoided seeing their doctor/going to hospital during the crisis to reduce their chances of catching Covid-19|
|Mental health related||3.16m|
|Other/prefer not to say||8.25m|