Mehiläinen’s modeling data shows: cancers likely undiagnosed, increased mental health-related need for treatment

Press Release 29.12.2021

According to the diagnoses made in Mehiläinen, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant care backlog in society as a result of unused doctor’s appointments. The mental health burden created during the pandemic has also affected the care backlog.

Mehiläinen closely monitors the development of the total number of diagnoses made in connection with doctor’s appointments. The comparison of the diagnoses made between March 2020 and November 2021 with an alternative scenario model* based on previous years shows that the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have caused an uneven care backlog across different disease groups.

- Compared to the alternative scenario model, the diagnoses show worrying trends. Based on the modelling, the number of appointments related to cancer diagnoses in Mehiläinen was about 15% lower than expected. In practice, this means that some cancers remain undiagnosed, says Mehiläinen's Chief Medical Officer Kaisla Lahdensuo.

When tackling the care backlog, it is important to take into account the special characteristics of different disease groups

When tackling the care backlog, attention should be paid to the need for care that has arisen in different disease groups; for example, by adding low-threshold services for the treatment of anxiety. Digital tools offer a good opportunity for this and many people also benefit from the individually tailored combination of remote and in-person appointments.

- The number of appointments related to depression was as high as the modelling predicted, but the number of appointments related to anxiety was 10% higher than expected. This indicates that although mental health challenges were increasing even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has become even more difficult, especially in terms of anxiety. There is a great, clearly visible need for low-threshold mental health services, says Lahdensuo.

* The alternative scenario model is based on all of Mehiläinen's visit diagnoses between March 2016 and February 2020 – a total of about 9 million visits.