Majority with chronic diseases fine with limited doctor visits, but some too important to miss

A sign on a door of a clinic reads "Stop!"
A sign posted to the entrance of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic in downtown Minneapolis asks patients who may have COVID-19 to return to their car or home and call the clinic.
Courtesy of Jon Hallberg

Have you seen your doctor lately? And, how are you doing?

Chances are you haven't been in because so many clinics have been seeing patients virtually during the pandemic. But that may not be having too much of an impact on your health.

A recent Kaiser Health survey shows about 86 percent of patients with chronic, stable conditions have remained stable. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar suggested the finding could mean Americans are over-using the health care system when there isn’t a pandemic.

“I think there’s a lot more to this story,” Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic told MPR News host Tom Crann. “If people are doing well, it’s not just because they’re doing well. I think it’s taking a lot of really hard work behind the scenes by a lot of people to make that possible.”

“For example, pharmacists dispensing medications. To make that happen, that requires triage nurses and the clinics,” he said. “We didn’t stop working.”

Hallberg also said the pandemic has caused people to forgo vital care, including getting checked out for symptoms that could signal a serious disease and getting immunizations.

To hear the full conversation, click play on the audio player above.

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