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Update on healthcare trends during pandemic

healthcare trends
  1. Healthcare activity continues to be muted due to impact of the pandemic.
    1. Elective medical procedures are still tracking nearly 20% below “normal” levels.  The pipeline for new candidates for procedures in not re-filling as fast as historically.  Hip and knee replacement volume was actually slightly lower in recent weeks than in June, speaking to the pipeline issue. This same rationale will impact HME patient pipelines. 
    2. Prescription volumes were 8-10% below normal for the first ten weeks of the pandemic.  While they have rebounded, they are still running about 3% below normal.
    3. There are fewer new drug prescriptions being written.  More interesting, the decline in name brand drugs has been very significant, much more severe than the fall in generic drugs.  Telehealth visits are noticeably less likely to attach to a name brand prescription.  That could indicate several things, one being that the doc has less influence on the consumer decisions when the consumer is at home.
    4. Cancer diagnoses during the pandemic at 7-10% below previous normal levels, indicating very likely a delay in recognition which will have a significantly negative impact on patient outcomes down the road.
  2. There are several signs that healthcare at home will have staying power.
    1. Telehealth physician visits shot up during the initial phase of the pandemic.  But they are settling in at about 10% of all visits today, which is a relatively high proportion historically.
    2. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 6 seniors utilized mail order pharmacy.  Mail order share has grown in pandemic.  For all of 2020, mail order pharmacy volume is up 20% over 2019.  Women are slightly more likely than men to use mail order.  This is one of several signs that consumers are very willing to accept more healthcare interactions from the comfort of home – likely to impact HME products like CPAP set-up too.
    3. Refill rates on drug scripts are pretty much flat throughout the pandemic.  People are maintaining therapy, but pipeline for new is slower and tamping down growth.
  3. A few other items of note:
    1. Medicaid enrollment is rising across the nation, running about 3% higher than pre-pandemic.
    2. 80% of COVID-19 deaths are in the 65 and older demographic.  59% are in the 75 and older group.

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