COVID-19 reshapes healthcare utilization

June 10, 2020


Healthcare professional services utilization dropped by nearly 70% in April year over year, resulting in a 50% decline in revenue, according to Fair Health’s new analysis of 31 billion commercial claims.

COVID-19 hit the Northeast the hardest as utilization of professional services—defined as any service provided by a practitioner instead of being billed by a facility—fell 80% and revenue decreased 79%.

Here are some other Fair Health findings:

  • Oral surgery had the largest decreases among specialists studied with utilization dropping 81% over that period, sinking revenue by 92%. Gastroenterology had the second-largest decline.
  • Pediatric primary care was the least impacted as utilization fell 58% and revenue decreased 35%. Patients 0-to-4 years of age were minimally affected compared with 5-to-17 year old’s and adults.
  • Telehealth played a key role in the relative prevalence of office or other outpatient evaluation and management visits from January to April 2020 compared with other services. Oral surgery telephone consultations climbed from No. 131 to No. 1 over that span.
  • Routine electrocardiograms fell out of the top five most common cardiology procedures in March and April 2020, reinforcing other data revealing a decline in cardiovascular care.
  • Similarly, mole biopsies fell out of the top five dermatology procedures in April 2020.
  • Endoscopies and colonoscopies fell out of the top five gastroenterology procedures in April 2020 compared with January 2020.
  • Knee replacements and total hip replacements were not among the top five orthopedic procedures by April 2020.
  • Strep throat testing was no longer among the most common pediatric primary care procedures in April 2020 compared with January 2020.
  • For adults, vaccinations fell out of the top five most common procedures from January to April 2020.