Inpatient volumes up, ED still low
WHILE HOSPITALS saw their volumes begin to rebound in June, the volume of ED visits isn’t coming back as quickly.
That’s according to analysis from TransUnion Healthcare, an analytics company, which found that inpatient volumes in June were down only 8% from pre-covid benchmarks. That represents a 75% rebound from hospital volumes in early April.
The number of ED visits, however, was still 25% below pre-covid volumes, having recovered only about 50%. The bounce-back in ED visits for low-acuity diagnoses like ear pain has been even more sluggish. But as a company spokesperson points out, that may signal a good trend if patients with lower-acuity conditions are seeking out less acute care settings.
However, Reuters last month reporte that areas of the country with growing outbreaks are again seeing patients pull back from hospital care, while Texas has again banned non-emergency procedures.
What’s your post-acute care strategy for covid patients?
AS PANDEMIC HOTSPOTS shift to the South and West, one problem— in addition to ongoing PPE and testing shortages—keeps cropping up: Where to discharge covid patients once they no longer need hospital care?
MedPage Today last month reported that Florida now has 11 post-acute facilities dedicated exclusively to covid patients in a network of about 750 beds. No national data exist on how many covid patients need rehab or SNF care after being hospitalized or how many require home-based post-acute treatment. So far, it doesn’t appear that post-acute facilities have been overrun with covid patients, in part because fewer patients are getting elective procedures.
Nursing-home advocates say that facilities accepting covid patients need dedicated covid units and PPE. Further, figuring out discharge strategies has been made more difficult because of testing delays, with post-acute facilities refusing to admit patients without knowing their status. The CMS has announced that it plans to send point-of-care tests to 2,000 nursing homes initially and eventually to all 15,000-plus facilities in the country.
What it will take to fix our broken testing system
A REPORT puts a price tag on what it would cost to fix diagnostic testing for coronavirus in the U.S.: an investment of $75 billion.
Released by the Rockefeller Foundation, the bipartisan report states that “America is facing an impending disaster,” one that only widespread and fast testing can prevent. The report makes several suggestions for how to spend that money. Those include ramping up existing PCR testing and getting turnaround times under 48 hours, according to according to STAT coverage.
The report also recommends that the federal government widely distribute antigen testing. While those tests are inaccurate about 25% of the time, they can be used to screen patients who have no symptoms. The report also notes that the U.S. needs about 5 million PCR tests per week and about 30 million antigen tests.
In related news, the NIH is helping fund a project launched by 3M and MIT researchers to develop a paper-based antigen test. Such a test could easily be mass-produced and would deliver results in minutes without having to go through a laboratory.
Pandemic upends physician job market
WHEN IT COMES to jobs, doctors have long been used to a robust buyers’ market in which they had their pick of opportunities. But in 60 days, coronavirus flipped that market to one in which physicians are now competing for positions.
The 2020 review of physician and APP incentives put out by Merritt Hawkins, a physician staffing firm, notes that the firm’s number of recruiting engagements is now down 30%. The health care sector in April lost 1.4 million jobs, a figure that includes physician jobs. The Merritt Hawkins review notes that the company has never seen this trend before.
The good news, according to the report? It’s a great time for hospitals that need doctors and APCs to start recruiting. There’s also good news for hospitalists: The demand for doctors on the front lines of treating covid is projected to rise, and covid’s impact on the job market will only be temporary. “(I)t is only a matter of time,” the report states, “before physician shortages again become the status quo.”