A potential positive consequence of this COVID-19 pandemic is that health behaviors of patients and healthcare providers may change for the better. In particular, it is hoped that consumers will take a more educated and cautious approach to where they seek care.
Ironically, in the midst of this healthcare crisis, emergency departments are seeing fewer patients. Emergency departments ideally exist to care for emergencies. These include conditions such assuch as seizures, broken bones, head injuries, chest pain, weakness or numbness on one side of your body, or other serious medical conditions that are likely to require hospital admission.
Historically, emergency medical personnel will tell you stories however, of patients presenting to emergency departments for minor ailments such as sore throat, cough, simple rashes or long-standing social issues.
Because of concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been staying away from emergency departments. I’ve heard more than one emergency department Physician comment that “now we are truly treating emergency patients.”
Ideally, your health healthcare is directed by your primary care physician. Staying healthy is best done with the expert help of a primary care physician that knows you and your medical history.
They are able to treat you more holistically. They are able to consider psychosocial, physical, and medical conditions that would affect your health much more than an emergency department physician seeing you for one brief visit.
If our system shifts even subtly from one of brief episodic sick care to lifelong “health“ care, we will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.