Date: Friday, November 6, 2020
Session Type: Poster Session A
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: In late 2019, a novel, highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19), was discovered in China and quickly spread throughout the world, equating to arguably the largest and most impactful modern-day world-wide pandemic. By March of 2020, the virus had fully spread to the US, forcing all but essential-working individuals to practice self-isolation in their homes, businesses to temporarily close their doors, and widespread social, economic, and medical impacts.
Methods: An independent market analytics firm collaborated with US specialists (n=257), including rheumatologists (n=50) from June 5 to 8, 2020 in order to gain insights on the impact of COVID-19 on their practice. Data collected included physician demographics, greatest impacts to date, attitudinal survey responses, and projected lasting change. Data has been collected on a rolling basis weekly, biweekly, or monthly since March 20, 2020.
Results: As of early June 2020, 36% of rheumatology practices have fully re-opened with appropriate social distancing pre-cautions in place; however, while improving, the majority continue to report high negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on their practice, with 70% agreeing that the COVID-19 experience will have a lasting impact on how they operate their practice. Half or more of rheumatologists report the areas of high impact include use of telemedicine, the financial health of their practice, the number of patient visits, and patient-outreach regarding COVID-19.
Specifically, while the use of telemedicine has grown week over week despite lifting the social distancing/stay at home requirements, overall in-person patient visits remain down 65% compared to pre-COVID levels. Furthermore, rheumatologists do not anticipate their use of telemedicine to cease once the crisis has abated, as 72% agree telemedicine will continue and estimate that 26% of their weekly patient engagements will be conducted virtually once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Although this new treatment modality has increased in popularity, rheumatologists largely remain unsatisfied and unclear exactly how they will be compensated or reimbursed for this type of care.
Other long-term projected practice impacts include rheumatologists’ use of PPE, attendance of medical conferences, and interaction with pharmaceutical industry representatives. Of note, just one-fifth (or less) of rheumatologists project that their use of specific brands for rheumatologic conditions, their in-office administration of drugs, and the stocking of product inventory will be vastly different than pre-COVID.
Conclusion: While rheumatologists largely anticipate that their use of products and stocking/administration of specific products for rheumatologic conditions will largely revert to pre-COVID-19 levels, other aspects of how they manage their practice will likely undergo permanent changes. Specifically, elements of their profession that can be done virtually in the future likely will maintain some element of change once the crisis has fully abated—with emphasis and consideration to the use of telemedicine, the way physicians interact with industry, and conference attendance.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Price L, Melendez G, Pouliot P. Lasting COVID-19 Impacts on US Rheumatology Practices [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020; 72 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/lasting-covid-19-impacts-on-us-rheumatology-practices/. Accessed April 11, 2021.
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/lasting-covid-19-impacts-on-us-rheumatology-practices/