Outpatient care volumes bouncing back, albeit unevenly

Weekly visits to some specialty practices have bounced back from the COVID swoon and then some. For many of these winners, in-person care is coming back to life right alongside telehealth.

For others, the doldrums drag on.

Those enjoying the comeback include dermatologists (up 17% over pre-pandemic baseline), adult primary care (+13%) and urologists and ophthalmologists (+4%).

Those on the outside looking in include pulmonologists (down 20%), otolaryngologists (-17%) and behavioral health providers (-14%).

The findings are from the Commonwealth Fund.

Releasing a report on the trends they’ve been tracking Oct. 15, the report’s authors, from the fund as well as Harvard University and healthtech company Phreesia, note they analyzed data from more than 50,000 Phreesia client providers.

“As summer ended, state and local governments lifted many restrictions on travel and nonessential services,” the authors comment. “Like many businesses, outpatient practices and their patients have adapted to this new normal. Yet providers in some areas of the country have been facing surges of COVID-19 cases in their communities and the challenges of keeping patients and clinicians safe while also maintaining revenue.”

The team’s findings and annotations, along with links to prior reports in this series, are posted in full for free.