Trends in Rheumatology Patient Care and Practice Operations Pre- and Post-COVID-19 Pandemic
Savill K1, Klink A2, Brown-Bickerstaff C3, Jeune-Smith Y2, Feinberg B2
1Cardinal Health, EL DORADO HILLS, CA, CA, USA, 2Cardinal Health, Dublin, OH, USA, 3Cardinal Health, Alexandria, VA, USA
OBJECTIVES: Advances in the field of rheumatology and increasing demands from the aging population have notably impacted trends in rheumatology practice over the past decade. However, arguably one of the most impactful factors on medical practice in the past couple of years has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected medical care across specialties and settings. This research aims to gain insights into trends in rheumatology patient care and the financial health and operations of community rheumatology practices from pre- vs. post-pandemic years.
METHODS: Web-based surveys regarding rheumatology clinic operations and patient care were conducted between July and September 2021 among rheumatologists from community- and hospital-based practices throughout the U.S. Data were described using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: While the majority (84%, n=73) of 87 responding rheumatologists reported conducting no patient visits via telemedicine before the pandemic, 93% (n= 81) reported conducting some patient visits via telemedicine post-pandemic. The majority (57%, n=50) reported that the financial health of their practice was about the same or better at the time of survey in comparison to before the pandemic, and 79% (n=69) reported seeing similar levels or more new patient referrals in comparison to before the pandemic. Less than half of rheumatologists (42%, n=37) indicated that the pandemic had only a temporary impact or had very little impact on patient care. Mental health support (83%), medication adherence support (61%), and support navigating insurance coverage/managed care (55%) were the top three cited gaps or unmet needs in patient care exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. CONCLUSION: While findings from this study indicate that the pandemic has impacted rheumatology patient care, including, notably, a shift towards conducting more visits in telemedicine settings, the majority of participating rheumatologists indicated that the financial health of their practice and patient referrals were similar to or higher than pre-pandemic years.
Conference/Value in Health Info