Doctors Urge Patients To Continue Getting Checkups During Pandemic

Wednesday, January 20th 2021, 9:19 pm
By: Grant Stephens

TULSA, Okla. -

The CDC said the number of people going to the doctor for routine checkups has dropped significantly since the start of the pandemic. Now, doctors are trying to reverse that trend.

At one point, UnitedHealthCare said claims for mammograms and other cancer screenings dropped by 95%, but Utica Park Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffry Galles said seeing a physician is perfectly safe.

"I think your risk of coming into a physician's office right now is probably far lower than going into a grocery store or going into a restaurant," Dr. Galles said.

Dr. Donald Buck, the regional chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said for months people haven't seen it that way.

"Recently CDC found that in the early months of the pandemic about 40% of adults in the US had delayed or avoided medical treatment due to concerns surrounding the virus," Dr. Galles said.

Dr. Galles said that fear will have a serious cost in the long run.

"We're going to find a big backlog of cancers that are going to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage because people have put off some of these things," Dr. Galles said.

To get on top of disease, experts had to get creative with new apps and ideas for remote treatment.

"There are some limitations but boy there's a lot more we can do with telehealth than we ever realized," Dr. Galles said.

Dr. Buck said online and over-the-phone telehealth services are more popular than ever. He said recently, people have also started getting comfortable with in-person checkups.

"It's hard to say exactly where we've come, the good news is we do see the trend reversing," Dr. Buck said.

Dr. Galles noticed the trend reversal as well, and hopes it stays that way.

"We don't want people to come into our office after not being seen for a year and end up having an advanced cancer or something that we could've managed if we saw them sooner," Dr. Galles said.

Both doctors encourage people to sign up for a checkup, whether that's online or in-person.