55% of orthopedic, interventional cardiology specialists predict coronavirus will affect case volume: 5 things to know

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit communities across the U.S., leaving the healthcare system scrambling to take care of patients amid the outbreak. For now, most specialists haven't seen a drop in procedure volume, but that could change with the rapidly evolving situation.

In the hardest hit communities so far, including Seattle and Boston, patients are being asked to avoid hospitals if possible and conduct telehealth visits or reschedule elective procedures. Jefferies, a New York-based financial services firm, conducted a survey of around 60 orthopedic surgeons, interventional cardiologists and anesthesiologists to see whether COVID-19 was affecting procedure volume.

Here are five key takeaways:

1. The majority said they hadn't seen a change in procedure volume, but 55 percent expected deferrals and cancellations to increase in the coming weeks, as of March 10.

2. There were 23 percent of respondents who said they had already seen an increase in delays and cancellations, and the average volumes were down 16 percent among those physicians. However, some reported procedure volume drops of up to 30 percent.

3. Interventional cardiologists were most likely to note a drop, with 29 percent reporting an impact to their volume; 23 percent of orthopedic surgeons and 13 percent of anesthesiologists said the same.

4. More than half of the respondents said their institutions had begun to prepare for the possibility of procedure deferment or reallocation due to COVID-19, but that still leaves 45 percent of the institutions who had not begun to prepare for the spread.

5. Jefferies projects most orthopedic and interventional cardiology procedures are likely to be shifted or cancelled, and those surgeries could be done in hospitals or ASCs at a later date.

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