When COVID-19 first started to spread in the U.S. in early 2020, there were serious concerns about how the healthcare system would be impacted. At that time, much of the discussion centered around hospitals and their ability to meet the demand for care. Fast forward to today, and it is clear that it isn’t only hospitals that have been impacted, all areas of healthcare have been deeply affected by COVID-19. Here are 15 quick stats (captured via Luma Health surveys of patients and healthcare professionals) that help illustrate how primary care has been impacted during the pandemic.
- Half (50%) of healthcare providers in primary care clinics have seen their patient volume decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the number of sick Americans, the demand for primary care has dropped. Unfortunately, between public health mandates, temporary clinic closures, and patients’ concerns about being exposed to COVID-19, many patients are missing appointments for exams and screenings, chronic care check-ins, elective procedures, and other types of care. Helping patients feel safe and at ease is critical now that many are hesitant to visit healthcare facilities and are likely to skip care. Primary care practices that frequently send messages to inform and engage their patients may have more success getting patients to schedule and keep appointments.
- A quarter of primary care providers (25%) say they’ve seen an increase in patient no shows during COVID. Because many clinics are struggling to operate at full capacity, it is more important than ever for healthcare teams to send messages to patients ahead of scheduled appointments. Doing so ensures patients know clinics are open and taking precautions, and can ultimately help reduce no shows that leave holes in providers’ schedules.
- Nearly 1 in 3 primary care providers (29%) say their clinic has faced staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19. Staffing issues are stemming from the fact that clinics have had to furlough and lay off staff, and also because staff have gotten sick or been forced to quarantine. Maximizing efficiency is essential when teams are short staffed.
- More than 2 in 5 healthcare professionals at primary care clinics (42%) say call volumes have increased due to patients having questions, concerns, or needing to cancel or reschedule appointments. When call volumes go up, there is added strain on staff. Giving patients self-service options — such as the ability to easily make, change, or cancel appointments online — and automating communications can help reduce that strain.
- More than 2 in 5 primary care providers (42%) say that as part of their efforts to promote social distancing and help patients feel safe and confident visiting their clinic, they have implemented a zero contact waiting room. Primary care practices are looking for ways to minimize contact between patients and staff. Luma Health has helped numerous healthcare teams transition their waiting rooms with zero contact solutions.
- Nearly 2 in 5 primary care providers (38%) have started offering curbside care to promote social distancing and help patients feel confident that it is safe to visit their clinic. Patients suggest they are open to curbside care and are interested in using it for a variety of care needs.
- Nearly 2 in 5 primary care providers (38%) acknowledge that they worry patients won’t adapt well to changes. As a result, providers say it is challenging to adopt new policies and procedures (such as curbside or zero contact care) that are meant to minimize COVID-19 risks.
- A full 74% of primary care providers are in agreement that communicating with patients between visits should be part of the “new normal” following COVID-19. Another 15% of primary care providers say they “somewhat agree” that communicating between visits should be normalized following COVID-19. The key to the long-term success of all of the new processes and solutions healthcare teams have adopted — from curbside care to telehealth — is good communication.
- Unfortunately, nearly 2 in 5 primary care providers feel that their clinic’s communication with patients about changes within their practice during the pandemic has not been good. In fact, 37% of primary care providers rate their practice’s efforts to make patients aware of new policies or services as “poor” or “moderate”.
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- A full 7 in 10 primary care providers (70%) agree that their patient engagement efforts could be more streamlined and efficient. An additional 19% of primary care providers “somewhat agree” that their patient engagement efforts could be improved.
- Healthcare professionals in 79% of primary care practices report that COVID-19 has driven an increased use of telehealth. A majority of healthcare organizations quickly realized that telehealth can be used to deliver care to patients who are unable or unwilling to visit clinics in person. As a result, many rushed to implement telehealth solutions.
- Most primary care providers (87%) agree that telehealth’s increased popularity will outlive the pandemic. Both primary care providers and their patients agree that telehealth has long-term potential — but the technology and user experience must be simple and reliable.
- To help offset financial losses caused by COVID-19, 25% of primary care providers say their clinic has cut expenses via furloughs or layoffs. With fewer patients visiting clinics for routine care, revenue has decreased. While telehealth is helping bridge the gap and make up some of the lost revenue, many practices are not operating at full capacity and are facing financial challenges.
- More than 2 in 5 primary care providers (42%) said they’ve made an effort to bring in additional revenue by engaging patients who were overdue for preventive care and prompting them to schedule appointments for exams, screenings, or other procedures. Even before the pandemic, preventive care was underutilized by Americans. Taking advantage of opportunities to increase patient traffic – whether that means in-person or virtual appointments – by prompting patients to schedule preventive care is a simple strategy for revenue recovery.
Click here to check out some helpful strategies for recouping revenue lost during the pandemic.
- More than 2 in 5 primary care providers (42%) report that they’ve increased their patient engagement efforts to stay in contact with patients from a distance during COVID. Primary care practices rely on Luma Health to help them efficiently and effectively engage patients and manage their care. Learn more.