COVID-19 is changing how + where patients seek care: 5 insights

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how patients seek care and perceive hospitals, several reports and experts indicate.

Five things to know:

1. More patients are seeking alternative care sites in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey commissioned by healthcare real estate company REIT Physicians Realty Trust. While 53.8 percent of the 2,018 survey respondents agreed to having a surgery in a hospital when recommended by a surgeon, 46.2 percent said they would request a surgery take place at a surgery center. 

2. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a surge of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that burdened first responders, according to a study published in JAMA Cardiology. Researchers noted an increase in all cardiopulmonary arrests that presented in non-shockable cardiac rhythms during the height of the pandemic. In 2019, 1,336 patients with OHCA underwent EMS resuscitation, compared to 3,989 patients in 2020. 

3. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conducted a survey from May 11-26 of orthopedic surgeons across the U.S. and received 1,523 responses. Eighty-three percent of orthopedic surgeon respondents said they think patients view hospitals as "unclean or not safe." 

4. While clinicians have always known the value of ASCs, the general public has just now begun to learn of the benefits, according to Nader Samii, CEO of National Medical Billing Services. "We're seeing a bigger [amount of] patient driver now than ever before," he said during a June 25 webinar. In 2005, 32 percent of surgeries were done in ASCs; that has increased to nearly 60 percent in 2020, with no signs of stopping, Mr. Samii said.

5. Patients whose elective procedures were halted due to COVID-19 are "anxious to have surgery done," according to Dan Murrey, MD, chief medical officer of Surgical Care Affiliates in Deerfield, Ill. And unlike hospitals, ASCs offer these patients the safety advantage of separation from COVID-19 patients, Dr. Murrey said in an interview with Becker's ASC Review

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