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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Johnson & Johnson launches resource hub to give Australians the confidence to prioritise their health

Health Industry Hub | March 19, 2021 |

MedTech News: New research revealed that many Australians could be putting their health at risk by delaying or cancelling healthcare appointments and procedures for fear of being exposed to COVID-19 – with one in five unsure when they’ll ever re-schedule deferred appointments for any medical procedure that’s not an emergency.

Research commissioned by Johnson & Johnson Medical (survey of 1,058 Australian adults in January 2021) found that close to a quarter of Australians feel their health has worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with this number highest in Victoria (30.5%), which has experienced the longest lockdown measures, followed by NSW (25.7%). However, despite worsening health, many are reluctant to see a healthcare professional with almost half (49.1%) delaying or cancelling healthcare appointments.

Professor Wendy Brown, Program Director for Surgical Services for Alfred Health said “People who require medical care already feel incredibly vulnerable as they have to place their trust in the hands of healthcare professionals. It can feel very isolating and disempowering. The COVID pandemic has been a time of uncertainty for most of us, and that has amplified the feeling of vulnerability. For some people, this has led them avoid seeking any medical care during this difficult time.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down, we are not out of the woods just yet. The threat of an outbreak will continue to create a great deal of uncertainty within the community. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for Australians to access the healthcare system at the right time and we will continue to do all we can to ensure they feel safe and confident to do so,” she noted.

Fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus in a healthcare setting is keeping more than 40% of Australians from seeing their healthcare practitioner. This is despite 70% identifying preventative health (including ‘well visits,’ immunisations and screenings) as a priority during the pandemic.

Elective surgeries and medical procedures were put at the bottom of the list for 65% of Australians, with younger Australians placing a greater priority on elective procedures than older Australians.

For those pursuing elective surgery or a medical procedure (any procedure that’s not an emergency) 36.9% were concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 during surgery or post-op, with nearly a fifth (19%) of Australians expressing concern in the ability of healthcare facilities they visit to properly manage the risk of patient exposure to COVID-19.

Most delayed or cancelled healthcare services due to COVID-19 were healthcare appointments that require close face-to-face contact with a healthcare professional. Almost a third (30.7%) of Australians delayed or cancelled their dental care and almost one in five (17.3%) delayed or cancelled their eye care.

Sue Martin, Managing Director at Johnson & Johnson Medical said “We know that delayed or deferred medical care could increase morbidity and mortality associated with both chronic and acute health conditions. We are committed to helping people live their healthiest lives, which means getting the care they need, when they need. We are launching My Health Can’t Wait and joining the industry, which has lately come together to help Australian patients feel comfortable and safe in seeking healthcare. With this campaign, we hope to give Australians the information and confidence they need to get back into healthcare settings as soon as possible.”

It appears the comprehensive rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will be the turning point for many Australians, with over a third (38.5%) saying that a COVID-19 vaccine would make them more confident when pursuing elective surgery or another medical procedure during the pandemic, and nearly a third (28.4%) would not be scheduling another healthcare appointment until a COVID-19 vaccine was available to them.

2020 saw a major shift away from face-to-face healthcare appointments to telephone and video conference consultations. Nearly a quarter of Australians (24.8%) said they are more likely to schedule a surgery or medical procedure if they were given the choice of using telehealth to stay connected with their healthcare provider.

While younger generations, ‘digital first’ by nature, are keen to embrace the new solutions, older Australians (65+ years) are likely to be the hardest to convert when it comes to digital ways of speaking to a healthcare professional. Over a third (33%) of Australians aged between 25 and 44 were more likely to schedule a surgery or medical procedure if they had access to telehealth to stay connected with their healthcare provider before and after the procedure compared to just 11% of Australians aged 65 and over.

Ms Martin added “We know that our public and private hospitals have worked tirelessly to create a safe environment for people to continue to access care. However, in our research, we found that people would be more confident in pursuing an elective surgery or medical procedure if they knew the details of the hospital’s sanitation policies (19.8%) and hospital policies around COVID-19 testing (18.3%). Our website resources provide checklists for both patients and healthcare professionals on key questions and topics to discuss to engender confidence in pursuing medical procedures.”


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