Healthcare Business

How Much Elective Surgeries Have Really Dropped Off During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic in clear view, many hospitals have taken measures to ensure that the virus is not unnecessarily spread. Many hospitals shut down elective surgeries and other activities to brace for the impact of COVID-19. However, analysis on these shutdowns is yielding some interesting insight.

ConsumerMedical’s latest data analysis has demonstrated that elective surgeries dropped by 65% year over year for the period of March to April. Also during this time, there was a 35% decrease in physical therapy visits, 30% fewer office visits for surgery-related conditions and 41% fewer injections to manage pain.

Note that the elective surgery analysis included a review of nearly 200,000 surgery claims covering more than 400 employer groups nationwide.

The firm noted two issues from this analysis that will have an impact on employers and health plans in the coming months. First, thousands of patients have not received the care and support to alleviate pain and address an injury or condition. Second, hospitals and surgery centers are seeking to recoup losses from elective surgeries that may have been postponed.

Ultimately, the combination of these two issues would create the perfect storm for driving a surge in incidence rates and costs for employers, payers and patients, according to ConsumerMedical.

Note that as the pandemic persists, and delays in elective surgeries continue, employers and insurers will need programs that help employees and members. In terms of help, these employees and members need to be able to make informed decisions regarding treatment plans and elective surgical procedures.

In a sense, people need to get back to the doctor or hospital to get the treatment they need, and at the same time hospitals need to get more patients for these elective procedures to help pay the bills.

Separately, Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) and McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) are partnering in an ad campaign to encourage people to return to medical offices for appointments. This combined effort is trying to allay fears of exposure to the coronavirus from a doctor’s office visit.

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