Impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable patients with rheumatic disease: results of a worldwide survey

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing evidence has shown the virus’ disproportionate effect on people from racial/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic status (SES) groups, all while physicians have changed practice patterns. In a new study published in RMD Open, Said Ibrahim, MD, MPH, MBA, and colleagues from Weill Cornell Medicine and Hospital for Special Surgery researched how rheumatologists have changed practices and what they consider the impact of COVID-19 to be on the most vulnerable patients. Using an online survey of 548 rheumatologists from 64 countries, they found a clear shift in practice to telehealth video consultations (82%), while 17% of respondents believe about 25% of their patients did not have access to this technology. Overall, global rheumatologists shared concerns of food insecurity, low health literacy, poverty and factors that make social distancing difficult, such as work and dense housing conditions. These factors put vulnerable patients at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality during the pandemic.

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