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  • Brian Cole

Gallup has a new poll that medtech should care about

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Fewer Americans are worried about going to the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new online poll from Gallup.

The poll provides good news for the medical device industry as it seeks to recover from a dropoff in elective procedures — and even procedures that people need — as hospitals focus on treating people suffering from the coronavirus.

Gallup found 22% of Americans during the May 14–24 time period were very concerned about COVID-19 exposure during a visit to a doctor’s office or hospital, down more than 20 percentage points from the 44% registered March 28–April 6.

The poll found 42% were moderately concerned — about the same level as the 40% recorded in late March and early April.

Meanwhile, 26% of respondents were not too concerned, and 11% were not concerned at all — up from  13% and 3% respectively in the previous poll.

Gallup noted that as the COVID-19 infection curve flattens in the U.S., Americans’ concerns about capacity at hospitals have eased, and face masks use is up — trends which may be putting people more at ease about going to the doctor.

The Gallup poll — an online, probability-based Gallup Panel survey of 6,065 U.S. adults with a sampling error of ±2 percentage points— comes out about a week after a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found nearly half of American adults saying that they or someone in their household had put off medical care during the pandemic.

Worries about seeking medical attention aren’t just causing Americans to forgo elective procedures such as knee or hip replacements; they’re also avoiding necessary and potentially life-saving care. A hospitals survey cited in STAT found a 40% drop in the number of people seeking treatment for severe heart attacks, for example.  Edwards Lifesciences reported in April that there were people holding off on transcatheter aortic heart valve procedures.

Mark Wehde, chair of the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Engineering, spoke during a recent MassDevice-affiliated DeviceTalks Tuesdays online event about how Mayo Clinic is moving to reopen to non-COVID-19 patients in a safe and thoughtful manner.

The new Gallup poll suggests that health providers’ efforts may be working. There are also other hopeful signs. Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha, for example, recently reported that the world’s largest medical device company was already seeing signs of a rebound in the month of May.

Interestingly enough, the new Gallup poll found older men were among those least likely to be worried about going to the doctor — even though they appear to be at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Older men are also a more Republican-leaning group, and the poll found that those who identified with the GOP are less likely to be worried about seeking medical help during the pandemic.

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