A new report from the Indiana State Medical Association says more people are delaying medical care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that is putting an economic strain on medical practices throughout the state. The ISMA COVID-19 Business Impact report shows 73% of physicians saying they have reduced staff hours or had temporary layoffs. The organization says there are concerns that the state’s efforts to sustain public health could be affected if local practices see further harm.
In an interview with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta, Reed said the pandemic has caused a “feast or famine” situation for healthcare providers.
“We have some healthcare providers that are on the front lines and directly involved in the COVID response and then we have other healthcare providers that have seen dramatic reductions in patient volumes. Almost all practices have seen over 40% reductions, some 80% or 90%,” said Reed. “What’s alarming to us about that is that means patients are not seeking the care that they need. Obviously that’s just not just for sick patients; that’s obviously for the important screenings and things like vaccinations that we need that’s part of the fabric of our primary healthcare system.”
The report involved a survey completed by ISMA members in partnership with the Indiana Medical Group Management Association.
Many of the respondents said the loss in revenue from declining patient volumes has created the potential for their practices to close. More than 50% of practices have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration, while another 25% said they are likely to or might apply for the program.
Reed says one of the goals of the report is to remind people that healthcare continues to be important, whether or not there is a pandemic.
“People need to be attentive to their own healthcare needs and the healthcare needs of their family members and really stay in contact with their doctors during this.”
The report says more and more healthcare providers are adopting the use of telehealth services. More than 70% of practices report they are using some form of telehealth.
Reed says there have been some additional challenges during the pandemic as well.
“We’ve had some challenges around personal protective equipment and access to masks and things like that for physician practices. Those are starting to improve and we’re pleased that the state has agreed to kind of help work with us to coordinate getting those for physician practices around the state. We’re also pleased to see increases in access to testing, which will really be important as we start to think about reopening as a state.”
Reed says the ISMA is currently working on guidance for reopening practices and restoring confidence in the public about going out to get the healthcare they need, including using telehealth services.
You can view the full report below or by clicking here.