More than half of the Portuguese (57%) believe that the pandemic has hampered their access to healthcare, with the elderly population (69%) and the chronically ill (70%) the most experiencing this difficulty, reveals a study released today.

The data from the study “Access to health care in times of pandemic”, carried out by GFK Metris and presented today at the Ordem dos Médicos, state that this situation is the result of “an effective experience”: 692 thousand Portuguese did not attend the medical consultations marked.

“Almost all of the missed consultations were canceled by the health units”, says the study promoted by the “Movimento Saúde em Dia – Don’t Mask Your Health”, an initiative of the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators (APAH) and the Ordem dos Médicos (OM).

The study aimed to listen to the opinions and capture the perceptions of the Portuguese about the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on access to health care, having been carried out based on face-to-face questionnaires, between August 28 and September 7, with a sample representative of the Portuguese population, consisting of more than 1,000 people over 18 years of age residing in Mainland Portugal.

According to the survey, about two million Portuguese had a medical act scheduled during the pandemic (March to August), the majority (89%) consultations, while 23% had exams, 5% had scheduled surgery and 3% hospitalization.

“Although the majority of the 664 thousand Portuguese who felt sick during the pandemic – 454 thousand, that is, 69% – resorted to health care, three out of 10 (210 thousand or 31%) did not do it”, refer the study authors in a statement.

About 40% of respondents say that they would certainly use health care during the pandemic in case of need, 35% say that they would only resort if the situation was serious and more than 22% said they “would probably resort”.

Half of the participants report that they feel safe and comfortable in accessing health care. Whoever feels insecure, points out the fear of contagion as the main reason to avoid going to the doctor.

The study also wanted to understand how the Portuguese accepted telemedicine, having concluded that 775 thousand had a medical consultation by this means, with 90% doing it.

“However, in 95% of these cases the consultations were made by telephone, not constituting an effective telemedicine consultation – less than 5% of these teleconsultations involved image transmission”, points out the study.

He also stresses that, “although the experience was considered very satisfactory, the truth is that two thirds would not like to have this solution again under any circumstances or only in very exceptional cases”.

For another third, teleconsultation could only be an option in some consultations. Only 2% of people would like to maintain teleconsultation on all or almost all occasions.

The Saúde em Dia Movement was launched in early September by OM and APAH, in partnership with Roche, with the aim of alerting the population to “the importance of being attentive to symptoms and signs that need medical observation, but without forgetting also the rules already known to fight the pandemic ”.