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Survey confirms physicians lack tests and equipment to fight COVID-19

Half of U.S. physicians say they have treated a patient with COVID-19 symptoms, while three-quarters report not being able to test easily.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The majority of doctors said they are short on medical supplies and COVID-19 tests, according to a new survey.

Seventy-three percent of U.S. physicians reported not being able to test patients quickly and easily for coronavirus, while at least half say they have treated at least one patient with possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Seventy-seven percent did not believe their hospital or clinic had adequate medical supplies or equipment to manage the crisis.

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THE IMPACT: WHAT THE FINDINGS SHOW

Nearly 50% of physicians (48%) report concerns about patients likely avoiding testing or treatment due to financial barriers.

Overall, 73% reported not being able to test patients quickly and easily.

Nearly 60% did not think there were enough coronavirus precautions in their clinical setting.

Seventy-percent did not think the government had taken appropriate measures to support the medical supply chain or had adequately responded to the pandemic.

A majority of physicians, 59%, agree that social distancing measures are appropriate and are absolutely necessary to successfully fight the coronavirus pandemic. But 28% feel current measures are likely an under-reaction.

Over 80% of physicians have moved to, or are planning to adopt, telemedicine visits with patients. Virtual visits allow providers to concentrate on high-priority coronavirus patients in person.

THE LARGER TREND

The survey confirms what has been widely reported: that providers lack necessary medical equipment, supplies and COVID-19 tests to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Doximity collected the data that was analyzed and reported by Dr. Anupam Bapu Jena, associate professor of Health Care Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Chris Whaley, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Doximity, an online professional network, conducted the survey between March 21 and 24, and received responses from more than 2,600 physicians from all major-medical specialties.

ON THE RECORD

"Our thanks go out to the physicians who participated in our study last week. For the first time, we have aggregated opinion data that reflects what they are experiencing on the front lines of this pandemic. These voices are highlighting clinical, medical safety and supply issues that must be addressed quickly," said Dr. Anupam Bapu Jena, an associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"The findings highlight the difficult road ahead for healthcare providers confronting the coronavirus pandemic," said Chris Whaley, Ph.D., lead author and Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. "We hope this insight on physician experiences and concerns surrounding the pandemic will help design appropriate and immediate policy response."

"As an emergency medicine physician, I see first-hand how these challenges are impacting day-to-day operations in the ER. I practice in Chicago, and we've already begun to see patients in severe distress due to this pandemic. The bottom line is that the issues flagged in this study, both at the clinical and system level, need to be addressed quickly for us to get and stay ahead of this," said Dr. Amit Phull, board-certified emergency medicine physician and vice president of strategy and insights at Doximity.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com