While patient volumes have started to rebound from the significant drop at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many specialties haven't returned to 2019 levels, according to a new analysis of patient and procedure volumes released Wednesday.
That slow recovery is concerning for hospitals, many of which experienced negative margins in March and April as patient volumes dropped.
Even where patient volumes are approaching 2019 levels, many encounters seemingly lost during the early spring haven't been recovered, according to the report from financial analytics company Strata Decision Technology. Strata analyzed data from 275 U.S. hospitals across 58 systems using the company's data-sharing tools for the report.
Outpatient visit volumes have recovered more strongly than inpatient volumes, according to Strata's findings.
While outpatient volume was down 56% in April, it was up 15% year-over-year in August. Early data for September, however, suggests a 7% dip.
Inpatient volume, down 27% in April, is still down 5% as of August. Medical service lines have rebounded more than surgical service lines, suggesting returning inpatients have focused on chronic, preventive and screening care, according to Strata's report.
Inpatient procedures and surgeries, which tend to be high-margin items, are still down 18.6% cumulatively.
Service lines like breast care, cancer and cardiology are nearing 2019 levels, according to the report.