The Veriblog

Voices of Concern

With the spread of COVID-19, community physicians suddenly find themselves on a tightrope balancing patient, community and business health

COVID-19 Methodology: Verilogue has analyzed 89 in-office visits from December 2019 to March 2020.  In addition, Verilogue has engaged in voice-enabled pulse surveys with physicians across all specialties, and have analyzed over 103 responses collected in March 2020. Verilogue’s analysis of caregiver voice online was conducted on data recorded February 17, 2020 through April 2, 2020 across all websites sourced by NetBase. Quotes provided in this content all originate from Twitter or in-office visits for illustrative purposes of the text and represent broader trends found in various communities.

It is safe to say that we are all concerned about the spread of COVID-19. As COVID-19 spreads across the globe and infection rates increase, so too does concern spread and rise: concern for the health and safety of our loved ones and ourselves, distress over our own role in the spread of COVID-19, and worry for the future of the economy and the financial impact of this crisis in our lives.

Now, more than ever, data and knowledge sharing is critical in this era of uncertainty. Verilogue collects naturally occurring in-office HCP-PT dialogues, including telemedicine visits.  Additionally, Verilogue regularly collects qualitative surveys and feedback on dialogue from both PTs and HCPs.  Our methodologies provide a unique perspective around community physician, patient, and caregiver point of view.

Community Physician Voices of Concern

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our community physicians. Community physicians suddenly find themselves on a tightrope balancing patient, community and business health. In addition to managing specific patient needs, they are filling multiple roles: small business owner; trusted community resource; public health educator; tech expert (telemedicine) – all while managing their own physical and mental well-being.  Because the goal is always to provide the best care to the patient, community physicians are assessing day-by-day whether the benefit of in-office consultation outweighs the potential risks (e.g. infection, concerns about quality of care via telemedicine) with many of our physicians reporting patient volumes (and revenues) half the level of the weeks prior to the pandemic outbreak; some far greater. Amid these challenges, community physicians are struggling to keep their practices in business for their patients, their staff and themselves; several have communicated that their practice has been shut down just two weeks into the pandemic with an undeniable uncertainty about the future.

Heightened Urgency

Taking a look back at recent exam room discussion, the conversation has evolved extremely quickly as it pertains to COVID-19.  Back in January, most questions were raised more as a curiosity, and were met with light-hearted responses (e.g. patients asking if the doctor has seen any patients with COVID-19; physicians saying that travel plans don’t need to be cancelled).  This is in sharp contrast to the conversations collected in March, in which these physicians are now diligently educating patients on best practices, and with patients asking specific questions around tactics, going so far as to warn patients with pre-existing conditions that contracting the virus could be deadly (and using more forceful language at times).  With this increased awareness comes the recognition that non-critical office visits should be rescheduled for the time being.

Patient and Caregiver Voices of Concern

The increased level of concern is echoed by patients, as one mentioned during an in-office visit in March:  “I mean, if I knew you were going to have so many people in your waiting room, I would’ve cancelled.  It really scares me.  Oh, I don’t want to go anywhere because I am so susceptible.”

Verilogue also captures the caregiver voice of concern through targeted social media monitoring.  An emergent theme unique to COVID-19 is the direct and intentional online engagement of friends and family members (caregivers) with loved ones who may be more at risk or vulnerable.  Fear for the safety and wellness of loved ones repeats itself online:

I’m very worried about my mother
“Terrified for my kiddo”
“My wife is a nurse…I feel your worries”

Caregiver and patient voices online reinforce the need for social distancing as a critical protective measure to those with underlying conditions or in an at-risk group, presenting social distancing both as a community need, and as a citizen obligation.  What this online trend shows us is that while COVID-19 has had deep impacts across the board, it also has unveiled to us individually the most vulnerable in our lives, and in evaluating our loved ones’ vulnerabilities we’ve been lead to ask—what is necessary? Caregiver voice resonates this sentiment, occasionally leveling unnecessary behavior or activity with selfishness, irresponsibility or even at times, cruelty. 

“Please, for my children’s sake, your neighbor’s sake, your parent’s sake, our doctors & nurses’ sake, stay home. Stop being selfish, you’re literally killing people!

While the caregiver voice is not unique to the online space, this assertive and protective engagement very much is.  We will be sharing more information in the weeks ahead, as there is already a powerful story of the impact of COVID-19 on family and loved ones developing online:

My Dad died last night from COVID-19. He wasn’t an essential worker but did not have the luxury of wfh and was required to work. My family’s lives will never be the same. Cover me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Take care of your people”. 

“My dad passed away from coronavirus last night. He was not a statistic and neither are his family. Stay home saves lives to love your family.”

The Path Forward

Verilogue will continue to monitor the evolution of this pandemic through our collection of HCP-PT dialogues, qualitative feedback, and social listening, and we look forward to sharing more information on a bi-weekly basis as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.  In the meantime, recognizing that this is a unique resource, we encourage anyone with interest to reach out and let us know how we can best structure these updates going forward.

Best of health,

-Verilogue

The insights presented in this content piece were developed through a collaborative effort across Verilogue’s linguistic research team

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