Staggering amount of Americans using vacation days to take a trip to the doctor

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Abridge, the survey found that 59% of respondents feel like they can start returning to their normal life as more people receive COVID-19 vaccinations. (Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)

Two in five Americans are taking time off not to relax, but to catch up on overdue doctor appointments, according to new research.

A new survey of 2,000 respondents, including 500 medical professionals, found that 42% of those polled are planning to take time off work solely for medical appointments.

Why do respondents feel the need to use up their vacation days for appointments? Half of pollsters said they’ve put off seeing a doctor within the past year. A further three in 10 (29%) haven’t seen a doctor in more than six months.

The checkups that Americans are most behind on include full physicals (35%), dental cleaning (31%) and eye exams (23%).

In any other year, doctor appointments may have seemed tedious and annoying, but the survey found that 52% actually miss the tedious events life used to offer. Fifty-one percent are planning to catch up on these appointments now that they’re vaccinated.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Abridge, the survey found that 59% of respondents feel like they can start returning to their normal life as more people receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

One of the top things they seem to be ticking off their “return-to-normal” checklist are those overdue doctor appointments, especially the 53% who prefer to seek medical care in person.

Although 44% confirmed that telehealth appointments are shorter than in-person visits, and one in five (21%) wouldn’t mind continuing with a mix of both in-person and telehealth options, most (59%) still think in-person appointments offer better medical care.

Medical professionals are also torn between both kinds of appointments; 71% of the 500 medical professionals polled agreed that telehealth has made it easier to see a larger number of patients every day, but nearly all of them (93%) admitted that there are some in-person checkup necessities that cannot be done over telehealth.

“The pandemic forced people to seek out new modes of care. While access to telehealth has proven to be convenient for some types of care, care delivery as a whole has become more fragmented,” said Dr. Shiv Rao, co-founder and CEO of Abridge. “That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a way for people to stay on top of their health and to remember the details of their care plan, across telehealth and in-person visits.”

Whether through telehealth or in-person visits, the average person forgets over half of the information from their doctors’ appointments.

This view is also held by medical professionals, 56% of whom think that their patients retain even less than half of the information that’s shared with them.

The top things medical professionals said their patients are most likely to forget are details about medications and next steps/follow-ups (51%, each). Half of medical professionals polled also said their patients are likely to forget about the lifestyle changes they discussed.

Most medical professionals (70%) said their patients call them to ask for advice or to verify information shared during a previous appointment.

This forgetfulness may be due to patients feeling nervous, anxious or overwhelmed during appointments (52%), or feeling lost when their doctors use complex medical terms (49%).

Another 48% wish it were easier to keep track of next steps following their doctors’ appointments.

Similarly, 44% of respondents would be interested in recording a doctor’s visit to better recall details and next steps.

Nearly all medical professionals (93%) stressed the importance of patients understanding and following through with their care plan, and 59% would even recommend that their patients use their phones to record information about next steps.

“Recording doctor’s appointments has become more mainstream during the pandemic,’’ said Dr. Rao. “With not being able to bring family to appointments, patients and doctors have both recognized the benefits of sharing important healthcare updates with others in their lives.”

MEDICAL CHECKUPS AMERICANS HAVE PUT OFF DURING THE PANDEMIC
Full physical (35%)
Dental cleaning (31%)
Eye exam (23%)
Pap smear (14%)
Mammogram (9%)

TOP THINGS PATIENTS ARE MOST LIKELY TO FORGET ACCORDING TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Details about medications (51%) (tie)
Details about next steps/follow-ups (51%) (tie)
Lifestyle changes (50%)
The overall plan (39%)
Risks and benefits of certain procedures or treatments (30%)

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