Due to fear of exposure to COVID-19, many patients are not seeking preventative care, placing their health in jeopardy. A new Quick Safety advisory from The Joint Commission, “Keeping patients on track with preventative care during pandemic,” provides recommended safety actions for healthcare organizations to encourage patients to seek preventative care. 

An estimated 40.9% of adults in the United States have avoided medical care during the pandemic because of concerns about COVID-19. This includes 12% who have avoided urgent or emergency care and 31.5% who have avoided routine care.In addition, since early 2020, breast cancer screenings have reduced by 89.2% and colorectal cancer screenings have reduced by 84.5%.

Some of the recommended safety actions for healthcare organizations in the advisory include:

Reach out proactively to encourage patients to seek preventative care.

  • Communications to patients could note risks of delaying preventative care.
  • To address concerns about potential COVID-19 exposure while seeking healthcare, organizations could describe precautions taken to reduce this risk. 
  • Organizations and providers should promote and encourage the use of a home-based colon cancer screening test for low-risk individuals. 

Provide immunizations in dedicated clinics, rooms or buildings. 

  • Waiting rooms could be closed and patients could check-in via phone. 
  • Vaccines could be given in the parking lot.
  • Patients should be reminded of the importance of protecting children against diseases that are preventable with a vaccine. 

“While the past year has been extremely challenging and fluid in health care, it is critical that patients continue to receive the health care they need as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” says Ana Pujols McKee, MD, executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity and inclusion officer, The Joint Commission. “If routine care continues to be avoided, adults will miss opportunities for managing chronic conditions and detecting new conditions. Children also are at risk if they do not stay up-to-date with their age-based vaccines to help prevent infections.”
For more information and to read the latest Quick Safety, visit The Joint Commission website.