Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A new poll from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides some insight into what physicians are expecting in the coming months. The survey ran from May 11th to the 26th, with a total of 1,523 respondents. The breakdown of specialties that responded to the survey included Hip and Knee specialists at 21 percent, General Orthopedists at 20 percent, Sports Medicine at 19 percent, Hand Surgeons at 9 percent, and Spine Surgeons at 7 percent.
Over half, 55 percent, of the physicians polled believed that elective surgeries would resume in May, and that all surgeries would resume in mid-June. The amount of time that physicians believed it would take to reach pre-pandemic levels of surgery was 11 weeks. To regain 90 percent of pre-pandemic surgical volume, 70 percent of the providers estimated it would take 5 months, 58 percent estimated it would take 4 months, 42 believed it would take 3 months, 19 percent believed it would take 2 months. Only 7 percent believed just a month was required to reach 90 percent pre-pandemic surgery volumes.
Forty-four percent of providers cited existing COVID-19 rates as the deciding factor to when surgeries would resume. The ability to test every patient pre-operatively was listed as the key deciding factor by 41 percent of respondents.
When asked about the deciding factors for facility procedure increases, 40 percent of the providers stated patient motivation, and 38 percent believed that pre-operative testing was the main driver.
The first procedures expected to ramp up first included sports at 57 percent, knee at 50 percent, and hand and wrist at 47 percent.
An average of 34 percent of patients have postponed surgery by more than 3 months. Eighty three percent of the providers polled cited a patient’s belief that facilities were not safe as a reason for their not having surgery. A fear of a second wave of infections was reported by 74 percent of providers. However, 73 percent of providers stated that they believed pain was a stronger motivator than fear of COVID-19 in their patients.
Earlier this month, The Joint Commission posted several key factors for facilities to consider in resuming their elective surgery volumes –
- Physical spacing preparation
- Patient attitudes regarding COVID-19 – are they fearful?
- Insurance coverage in light of unemployment volumes
- COVID-19 testing requirements and logistics per area
Taking into consideration the need for pre-operative testing and resulting quarantine until the procedure, prior authorization requirements, and patient’s schedules, getting patients scheduled for procedures is definitely a logistical challenge for providers of all specialties.