Hospital outpatient volume recovering quicker than ED, inpatient: TransUnion

Overall hospital visits are slowly recovering, but volumes remain significantly below pre-pandemic numbers, according to research from TransUnion Healthcare. 

TransUnion Healthcare found that emergency department and inpatient volume recovery is being outpaced by outpatient volume recovery, raising concerns that patients who need emergent care are avoiding hospitals out of fear of contracting COVID-19. 

TransUnion Healthcare found outpatient hospital visits were down 64 percent the week of April 5-11 compared to pre-COVID-19 volumes. TransUnion Healthcare defines pre-COVID-19 volumes as the average weekly visits recorded in the first full eight weeks of the year. Outpatient visits are beginning to recover but were still down 31 percent during the week of May 10-16. 

Emergency department and inpatient hospital visits are trending upward, but at a slower pace than outpatient visits. ED visits are still down 40 percent and inpatient visits are down 20 percent compared to pre-COVID-19 volumes. 

"As many hospitals resume elective procedures, we're seeing positive signs of recovery for outpatient visit volumes. However, recovery for emergency department and inpatient is lagging, which may indicate that patients are deferring necessary care," David Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare, said in a news release. "These deferrals will have implications for both patients and providers — high-acuity and chronically-ill patients risk waiting too long to seek care, and a continued reduction in visit volumes will further amplify existing financial challenges for hospitals."

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