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Abstract: PO0856

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Sparked Change: What Will Be the "New Normal" in Physician Practices and Patient Care?

Session Information

Category: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • 000 Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Author

  • Robinson, Jennifer, Spherix Global Insights, Exton, Pennsylvania, United States

Group or Team Name

  • Spherix Advanced Analytics Group
Background

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing and stay-at-home orders significantly impacted physician practices across the board. The objective of this study was to evaluate the COVID-19 impacts and responses across different specialists as they unfolded and to understand how the model of patient care delivery will change moving forward.

Methods

Survey data was collected weekly or bi-weekly between March 20th and May 8th, to provide rapid responses on the quickly evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Approximately 50 nephrologists participated in each each wave, along with 200 neurologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists and gastroenterologists.

Results

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on physician practices was swift and monumental, as of early April office visits were down more than 70% across specialties. As of early May, nephrologists remained one of the hardest hit groups and continued to report 85% fewer patients compared to a typical, pre-COVID week. Nephrology was somewhat buffered from overall declines due to their dialysis patient responsibilities.

Not only did these significant drops in patient office visits impact patient access to medical care, physician practices also suffered drastic financial impacts. More than half of the specialists reported a “substantial” impact on the financial health of their practice by early May. Practices responded swiftly with telemedicine adoption, and by early April more than 90% of most specialties had adopted some telemedicine capabilities.

By the final wave, 78% reported that the COVID-19 experience will have a lasting impact on how their practice operates from the way physicians interact and see patients to long-term staffing structure and variations in the way they interact with the pharmaceutical industry.

Conclusion

The delivery of patient care, which has remained largely unchanged for decades and relied primarily upon direct, in-person care, has had to evolve to meet the demands of a world in pandemic. As a result, significant changes have occurred with the adoption of telemedicine, and given physicians and patients a new way to interact. Additionally, as practices try to rebuild from significant lost revenues, staffing structures and typical in-office activities, such as meeting with pharmaceutical representatives, along with conference attendance, will likely never return to their pre-pandemic levels.