Survey: Ophthalmology outpatient volume drops

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According to McKinsey’s Hospital Insights Survey, hospital outpatient and procedural volumes were nearly 4 percent higher in July compared to 2019, but ophthalmology was down during the same period.

While regional variations in patient volumes remain at hospitals across the country, many returned to 2019 levels in June and July of this year, according to results of a new McKinsey survey.

Overall, McKinsey’s Hospital Insights Survey found that outpatient and procedural volumes were nearly 4 percent higher in July compared to 2019.

However, the survey found regional variations and differences among specialties, including ophthalmology.

McKinsey’s survey reached leaders at 100 private sector hospitals across the United States in late July to examine how COVID-19 continued to impact hospital volume.

According to the survey, ophthalmology saw a 4 percent decrease in volume in June compared to 2019, second only to plastic surgery, which saw a 7 percent drop during the same period.

The survey also found that 13 percent of respondents expect patient demand to exceed provider capacity in ophthalmology in the next six months, and 10 percent of those surveyed said telehealth is routinely leveraged in ophthalmology.

Despite the survey's findings, ophthalmologists at a recent conference reported increasing patient volumes in the wake of the pandemic.

The survey only examined hospital volumes, and not private practices, clinics and other settings.

Emergency department and inpatient volumes have returned to 2019 levels, with respondents noting they expect it to be roughly 5 to 6 percent higher in 2022. Outpatient and procedural volumes were 3 to 4 percent above 2019 levels in July. They are expected to be 6 to 8 percent higher in 2022.

McKinsey surveyed strategic and operational leaders from 100 large private sector hospitals to see how COVID-19 impacted hospitals and to get a feel for expectations and implications going forward.

All of the survey respondents represented hospitals with more than 200 beds. The facilities were from all regions of the country and collectively represent about 10 percent of all hospitals.