By Lilly Diabetes
Worrying about contracting COVID-19 has led many people across the United States to avoid doctor or hospital visits, even when necessary. In fact, nearly half of Americans say they or a family member have skipped or delayed medical care because of COVID-19. For people with diabetes, the risks of delaying care or skipping appointments carry additional weight, as it increases the risk for serious complications. Yet, since the start of the pandemic, almost 50% of people with diabetes delayed seeking the routine medical care they need to manage their condition, mainly because they feared COVID-19 exposure.
The Truth and Impact of Delaying Care for People with Diabetes
Delaying regular healthcare provider visits can have serious consequences for people with diabetes and increase the risk for complications, including heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, amputations and more. And, because people with diabetes are already at higher risk of depression compared to the general population, the added stress of avoiding the doctor because of COVID-19 can have meaningful psychological effects and carries the risk of impacting how effectively they manage their condition.
Despite these known risks, over the last 18 months many have found it difficult to get to a healthcare provider appointment. Almost 70 percent of people reported delaying medical care due to the inability to secure an appointment, find a physician who would see them, or access the location where care would be provided.
If constant communication with a healthcare provider is not possible, people with diabetes are left to manage their diabetes without all the necessary tools. However, there are ways to continue to maintain proper care.
Identifying Ways to Safely Return to Care
Returning to care is a personal decision that depends on a variety of factors including personal circumstances and health goals. In deciding how to safely return to care, a person with diabetes should first contact a healthcare provider’s office to determine whether in-person or telehealth visits are available and right for their treatment goals.
An in-person appointment does have its benefits, including being able to discuss A1C levels, diabetes management and treatment plans in the office. This option will help people with diabetes to get back into the routine of regular healthcare provider appointments and ensures the right treatment discussions are happening. If it is determined that an in-person appointment is the best option, it’s important to ask about the office’s current process and recommendations.
Telehealth visits also have benefits, including being able to self-report progress and have regular conversations with a healthcare provider without going into an office. If a telehealth visit is the right option for a person with diabetes, it’s a good idea to discuss sharing blood work, including A1C levels, in advance of the visit. A1C home test kits can help people with diabetes and their doctor keep track of progress without needing an in-person visit.
With increases in the delta variant and the fall flu season approaching, scheduling an appointment with a doctor to manage diabetes is more important now than ever. Whether through telehealth and at-home A1C testing or in-person appointments, people can protect their health by scheduling an appointment today.