Millions in UK avoiding treatment for pain due to Covid
Three quarters of people living with pain in the UK didn't seek treatment during the lockdown, a new study has found.
Additionally, over a third of pain sufferers ‘self-medicated’ to avoid burdening the National Health Service.
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, around 28 million people are now under local restrictions to socially distance and avoid public transport. Trade association the Musculoskeletal Partners Network (MSKPN) have issued a warning to the UK’s 18 million pain sufferers to seek medical treatment for their ailments in case of a second national lockdown.
The advice comes as the trade association, whose members include physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors, reveals the findings of a study into the musculoskeletal health of 2000 people during the first lockdown. Of those polled, more than half (57 per cent) suffered with pains, strains or discomfort across areas including in their joints, limbs, hips, back, neck, knees, shoulders, ligaments, muscles or conditions such as arthritis.
When asked how they treated their conditions, almost three quarters (73 per cent) did not seek any treatment during lockdown, with 36 per cent saying it was because they self-medicated, 35 per cent saying they didn’t want to overburden the NHS with a low priority issue, and 33 per cent responding that they didn’t want to attend a healthcare setting due to exposure to COVID-19.
Andrew Walton, co-founder and chair of MSKPN, says: “Our study shows three quarters of those with pain in the UK – that’s around 13.5 million people - could potentially be avoiding treatment because of Covid. With the threat of a second nationwide lockdown looming and local restrictions already in force, it is terrifying to think such a big chunk of society could be suffering in silence – choosing to self-medicate to mask their pain and avoiding medical intervention."
“While they may have thought they were helping the NHS by not seeking guidance, in the long run they are risking long-term health issues. Plus, the knock-on implications for the NHS could be mammoth, especially as we already know that waiting lists for operations, which includes millions of routine hip and knee procedures, is set to reach 10 million people by the end of the year."
“The figure that one third of those with pain, approximately six million people in the UK, may choose to self-medicate rather than get professional help is also a huge red flag. A study released last autumn found that one in four people were taking “addictive medicines” - we hope, by shining a light on the problem, these people will now get the treatment they desperately need, instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet.”
Andrew, who also founded community healthcare provider Connect Health over three decades ago, concludes: “We know now is a scary and uncertain time for many people, but help is out there, and new innovations are now available like the C-Chart tool, which helps clinicians weigh up the risk of Covid versus the support the patient needs. Tools like this are both reassuring for those requiring treatment and for the healthcare professional and will ensure that the safest route to treatment, which could include a face-to-face consultation under stringent safety measures, is found.”
The study also found that more than a fifth (22 per cent) of respondents admitted that their condition worsened during lockdown, over a quarter (26 per cent) feel weaker/less well physically now than before lockdown and 26 per cent said they felt more stressed and less in control during lockdown.
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.