More than eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the country and the world have, have become normalized to the new normal. Kids have been back in school, sports returned and, depending on where you live, some restrictions may have been relaxed.
Fast forward to the third week in November, this more relaxed approach to life possibly in combination with the cooler weather is resulting in a third surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. According to John Hopkins data, the U.S. one-weekly daily average of new cases is 101.8K as of Nov. 8, which is an increase of +114% from Oct. 8. This uptick prompts the obvious question of how will patient traffic within the doctor’s office be impacted?
Contrary to some expectations, the data suggest patient traffic is not affected by increasing incidence of COVID. Except for the late-March/mid-April timeframe, patient traffic and COVID numbers have moved independently of each other as can be seen by the graph below. Patient traffic has steadily increased since mid-April even as the number of new COVID cases have fluctuated.
This is because as much as COVID has changed our perceptions of normal, we have become comfortable with going about our lives and taking care of our daily needs, even if they are different compared to this time last year.
Based on the data trend and the positive news regarding the success of vaccine trials, the outlook for patient traffic and treatment going into 2021 is positive. We can expect patient office traffic across most specialties and disease states to remain within normal seasonal levels. The possible exception to this will be with acute illnesses primarily within primary care and pediatrics as masks and social distancing may result in a milder cold and flu season.
For marketers, this means as much as things have changed, the future is looking very similar to what it did pre-COVID. As we are still seeing signs that practices are catching up on some of the delayed care from earlier this year, it is probably more important than ever that marketing plans are being made at scale.
At PatientPoint we are continuing to work with our clients to access our market insights based on our data assets and analytical capabilities. Using these insights, we are able to better help brands plan, execute and optimize in order to maximize the impact of their point-of-care campaigns.
Eric Talbot is a strategic marketer and analytics expert with 20+ years of experience. As senior vice president at PatientPoint, he advises organizations in the implementation of an evidence-based marketing approach to connect with physicians, patients and caregivers at the point of care.