New Luma Health Report Reveals COVID-19 Is Fast-Tracking Healthcare Innovation and Changing Care Delivery
Tashfeen Ekram, MD
Luma Health released a new data report today: COVID-19 Ushers in Patient-First Care Model. The report looks at some of the effects COVID-19 has had on healthcare clinics and patient care. More specifically, it highlights ways COVID-19 is driving healthcare innovation and changing how patient care is delivered.
Our team created the report to give our customers access to some of the insights and data trends we’ve captured through our patient engagement platform. I wanted to take an opportunity here to share a few highlights from the report.
The report’s findings are based on our analysis of 5.7+ million interactions between doctors and patients from late January when the COVID-19 crisis was first reported in the U.S. – into the first week of April 2020.
Here is a quick look at three key takeaways from the report:
1. As a result of COVID-19, patient communication is increasing.
Not surprisingly, communication between healthcare providers and patients is rising due to COVID-19. Healthcare teams are conducting patient outreach to inform and educate patients, and coordinate care during the pandemic. Overall, 1.56M messages were sent via Luma Health’s Broadcast messaging between January 1 and April 5, 2020. During that time, the volume of messages sent increased 37x nationwide.
While it makes sense that healthcare teams and patients are engaging more, the communication response hasn’t been equal across all regions of the country. A dive into the data shows that the volume of broadcast messages sent to patients increased 40x in the Western U.S., but only 8.7x in the Midwest.
Here is the breakdown by region for messages sent from late January until the end of March:
West: 40x increase in broadcast messages to patients
Southwest: 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
The fact that some areas increased communication efforts at a higher rate is interesting and helps quantify the value of outreach. For example, California was one of the states hit early by COVID-19. California’s response was swift: patient communications increased more than 91.3x between late January and March.
Actions by healthcare, along with early statewide mandatory restrictions helped California avoid becoming an outbreak epicenter. In contrast, patient communications in New York increased only 16.5x during the same period of time. Unfortunately, outcomes in New York were worse.
This side-by-side comparison supports what providers already know: Providing accurate and consistent information to patients can help impact health outcomes.
2. Large numbers of appointment cancellations are impacting healthcare organizations and patients across the country.
Throughout 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, COVID-19 contributed to a 108% increase in appointment cancellations. Luma Health’s data shows that cosmetic surgery, physical therapy, radiology, and pulmonology clinics have experienced the highest increase in appointment cancellations.
Problems caused by appointment cancellations aren’t new, however, the magnitude of this wave of appointment cancellations is. The sharp rise in the number of canceled appointments is creating revenue problems for clinics and health systems. It also means patients aren’t getting the routine and chronic care they need, and there is a backlog of patients behind on care that need to reschedule appointments.
3. Automated screenings and virtual telehealth visits are enabling providers to continue safely delivering care.
Identifying and screening patients who are most at risk of contracting the new coronavirus is a priority in healthcare innovation. 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% – of primary care clinics have cancelled wellness and chronic care visits due to COVID-19, 83% of primary care providers report having appointment openings that could be used for telehealth virtual visits. Not only does telehealth help maintain access to care, it also allows providers to refill schedule openings caused by cancellations.
The need for a quick and easy-to-use healthcare innovation solutions are 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. Luma Health has 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.
Check out the full data report for a more complete look at these and other healthcare innovation findings.