U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for office visits to ensure their doctors have access to protective gear.
According to a recent report from ActionPPE survey, 80% of Americans believe healthcare professionals should continue to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, with 51% willing to pay more for office visits to ensure their doctor has access to the necessary protective gear. This is one of several findings revealed by ActionPPE, the Charleston County Medical Society (CCMS) nationwide collective buying initiative created by doctors for doctors.
ActionPPE polled 1,000 U.S. adult consumers about their beliefs on the importance of PPE during the pandemic. The survey results indicate that PPE is here to stay, particularly masks, to protect doctors and patients during the pandemic and beyond. In addition, at a high level, Americans understand the importance of PPE in helping to stop the spread of COVID—despite what is often portrayed by news outlets and social media.
However, Americans do have concerns that PPE shortages will continue, at least in the near term.
“It’s clear that PPE, particularly masks, are the preferred way to keep doctors and patients safe during the pandemic and after as well,” said Marcelo Hochman, MD, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, founder of ActionPPE and CCMS president. “At ActionPPE, we are most proud of doctors helping doctors during the PPE crisis, as they take matters into their own hands to protect themselves, their patients and their communities by purchasing PPE directly from suppliers.”
According to the survey, Americans want their healthcare providers to wear masks during office visits. A majority (58%) view masks as the most important PPE for healthcare providers to protect themselves while at work. This is followed by face shields (22%), gloves (12%), and gowns (4%).
While a majority (57%) believe it is more important for the healthcare worker to wear a mask than the patient, by a large margin Americans understand they play a key role in the effort to prevent the spread of COVID and keep their providers safe, with 75% confirming masks are important for patients to wear during office visits. Face shields (13%), gloves (5%), and gowns (3%) are not viewed as nearly as important.
While the news media may paint a different picture of attitudes about mask-wearing, only 5% of Americans don’t think it’s important to wear protective gear, including masks.
The survey further found that a majority (55%) are willing to pay more for their office visit to ensure their healthcare providers have access to PPE, with 51% willing to pay an additional $5; 30% willing to pay an additional $5 to $10; 13% willing to pay an additional $10 to $15; and 6% willing to pay more than $15.
According to ActionPPE, the survey found that Americans believe that PPE shortages will continue and support healthcare professionals taking action to ensure they have a sufficient supply of protective gear. The findings show that 83% agree that it is appropriate for doctors to take action to source their own supply of PPE when faced with a shortage. Meanwhile, 54% believe it is smart for doctors to purchase PPE directly from manufacturers in an emergency to protect themselves, while 39% say it is smart to purchase PPE directly at any time. Nearly 60% of respondents expect PPE shortages to continue for the foreseeable future.
Americans don’t think that all healthcare professionals require the same access to PPE. Not surprisingly, urgent/emergency surgery is viewed by a large majority (65%) as deserving the greatest access, followed by dental/orthodontists (53%), blood work/labs (52%), and general practice/internists (51%).