Ambulatory practice visits tumble amid COVID-19 crisis, hitting ophthalmology hardest — 4 takeaways

Ambulatory practice visits were down nearly 60 percent in mid-March for more than 50,000 provider clients of Phreesia, a healthcare technology company, The Commonwealth Fund reported based on new research.

Researchers at Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University analyzed weekly percentage changes in the number of visits for Phreesia's provider clients.

Four takeaways:

1. The week of March 15, ambulatory practice visits were down 38 percent compared to the first week of the month. By March 29, visits were down 57 percent compared to the same baseline. Just 3 percent of visits were recovered by the week of April 12.

2. Decreases in visits were generally larger among surgical and procedural specialties. Ophthalmology saw the largest percent change in ambulatory practice visits from the beginning of March to the week of April 5, with a 79 percent drop.

3. Visits decreased 61 percent in that time frame for orthopedics, cardiology and gastroenterology. Ambulatory practice visits for ENT, general surgery, urology and pediatrics were also down more than 60 percent. Behavioral health saw the smallest decline in visits.

4. By April 12, ambulatory practices were providing telemedicine services for nearly 30 percent of all visits. However, the increase in telehealth services only partially offset declines in office visits.




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