What You Should Know:
– Data from Luma Health reveals stark gaps in the volume and cadence of COVID-19-related messages sent between doctors and patients.
– California, one of the states hit early and hard by COVID-19, increased patient communications more than 91x over, with 206,000 messages broadcast between late January and March; New York saw a 16x increase over the same period (both states with approximately the same number of cases in early March).
– During the month of March, healthcare providers experienced a dramatic increase in appointment cancellations: 108% between March 9 and March 31, 2020.
Luma Health, a San Francisco, CA-based provider of total patient engagement, has announced a new report: COVID-19 and the Urgent Need for Emergency Patient Communications: How the Coronavirus is Changing Patient Access and Engagement. The data report presents the analysis of 5.7+ million interactions between doctors and patients from late January – when the COVID-19 crisis hit the U.S. – through March 2020. Data reveal that over a 65-day period, there was a 28x increase in patient communications, with some states’ providers placing a much higher priority on communicating than others; the number of messages sent per state correlates with the progress each has made in flattening the curve to-date.
Data reveals unequal response across regions
Healthcare providers across the U.S. are increasing patient communications to help inform, educate, and coordinate care during the current pandemic. Luma Health’s report shows how providers across regions compare:
– West: 40x increase in broadcast messages to patients
– Southeast: 22.9x increase in broadcast messages to patients
– Northeast: 21.7x increase in broadcast messages to patients
– Southwest: 11.6x increase in broadcast messages to patients
– Midwest: 8.7x increase in broadcast messages to patients
California, one of the states hit early and hard by COVID-19, increased patient communications more than 91x over, with 206,000 messages broadcast between late January and March; New York saw a 16x increase over the same period (both states with approximately the same number of cases in early March).
Report quantifies – in stark reality – nationwide appointment cancellations
Across the U.S., appointments for non-urgent care — such as wellness visits, preventive screenings, and elective surgeries – are being deferred. During the month of March, healthcare providers experienced a dramatic increase in appointment cancellations: 108% between March 9 and March 31, 2020. Healthcare providers in northeastern states are experiencing the highest increase in cancellation rates at 100 percent; western states have the lowest with 44 percent.
Cosmetic surgery, physical therapy, radiology, and pulmonology clinics have experienced the highest increase in appointment cancellations.
Data show communications efforts are helping, but not enough (yet)
With 6 in 10 Americans living with at least one chronic disease, simply having a channel through which to communicate with a provider isn’t enough. Patients need consistent and seamless access to care. Over the past few months, 74 percent of primary care providers report that their phone lines have become flooded with calls from patients.
Effective communications and telehealth can help fill the void
Identifying and screening patients who are most at risk of contracting the new coronavirus is a priority. Using simple text messages to deliver automated surveys and digitize screenings has proven effective for providers across the U.S. — particularly among at-risk populations or those in areas with community spread of COVID-19. Many providers are pulling information directly from their EHR (Electronic Health Record) to identify their high-risk patients and digitize screening efforts.
While more than half – 54 percent – of primary care clinics have cancelled well and chronic care visits due to COVID-19, 83 percent of primary care providers report having telehealth appointments available. Not only does telehealth help maintain access to care, it also allows providers to refill schedule openings caused by the dramatic increase in cancellations.
“The findings quantify what providers across the country already know: Providing accurate and consistent information to patients can impact health outcomes,” said Tashfeen Ekram, MD, chief medical officer at Luma Health. “We are seeing a positive response to delivering and receiving accurate, quality information across the country. While Americans struggle with the reality of this pandemic, they are reaching out to and communicating with their trusted healthcare providers, which is critical in this current moment.”
“The need for a quick and easy-to-use and implement telehealth solution is no longer a nice to have. As coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., it’s necessary to ensure seamless care for patients – both with and without COVID-19,” Ekram continued. “We have seen this need firsthand: Within the first week of introducing an offering into the market, more than 50 providers adopted our telehealth solution to immediately book virtual visits and continue delivering much-needed patient care.”
For more information or to download the full report, visit: https://www.lumahealth.io/blog/resource/data-report-covid-19-ushers-in-patient-first-care-model/