The emergence of COVID-19 has put a burden on the ability of health services to deliver basic health care. The study looked at health-care utilization among type 2 diabetes patients in Finland’s North Karelia region.
This retrospective cohort study examined the electronic health records of 11,458 type 2 diabetes patients between 2019 and 2020, including all primary and specialized care contacts. The researchers examined primary care nurses, physicians, and dentists, as well as any emergency visits to a specialist.
The cost of healthcare in 2020 and 2019 was compared (pre-lockdown [1 January-15 March], lockdown [16 March-31 May], and post-lockdown [1 June-31 December]).
During the lockout, the number of diabetes-related interactions dropped considerably but quickly rebounded to pre-lockout levels. During the epidemic year, contacts per person reduced by 9 percent (mean 2.08 vs. 2.29), and 9 percent fewer patients had any contact (59.9 percent vs 65.8 percent ).
When compared to the pre-lockdown era, the percentage of remote consultations increased from 56 percent to 88 percent in 2020. The results were consistent independent of the participants’ ages or genders. The lockdown significantly reduced the number of emergency visits, however, there was a “rebound effect,” and the number of emergency visits in 2020 exceeded those in 2019.
Despite the onset of COVID-19, diabetic care was maintained, and even elderly patients were served. Even before the pandemic, the use of telemedicine in the delivery of numerous critical services was well established.