Barriers Faced by Clinicians Who Care for Lyme Disease Patients
Lorraine Johnson and Dr. Elizabeth Maloney published “Access to Care in Lyme Disease: Clinician Barriers to Providing Care” in Healthcare on September 27, 2022. The goal of the study was to determine barriers that are encountered by clinicians who provide care for patients with persistent Lyme disease/chronic Lyme disease (PLD/CLD). Patient perspectives on the issue have been examined, however, the challenges faced by providers who are treating this group of patients have not yet been studied.
A survey was given to clinicians who treat PLD/CLD that analyzed their professional history, overall difficulties in providing care, supply and demand limitations, insurance constraints, as well as governing and regulatory challenges. These clinicians have garnered extensive clinical proficiency but were found to contend frequently with medical, regulatory, and economic obstacles when providing care to their PLD/CLD patients.
The surveyed clinicians described the complexity of care (79%), cognitive impairment of patients (57%), and the need for frequent calls with patients between scheduled visits (49%) as the main obstacles to providing sufficient care. One clinician stated: “Lyme disease is the hardest diagnosis I treat as each patient responds so differently to therapy; it is hard to know where to start with each one, what will work, what will make them worse, etc. Some just never seem to get better no matter what I do. It is gratifying to see others improve.”
The authors consider whether these obstacles make it challenging to recruit and retain providers who will care for the precipitously increasing PLD/CLD patient population. An understanding of these challenges as well as establishing possible resolutions is critical to solving these issues and to providing access to the care these patients need to improve their health and well-being.
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