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Hospital Visits Down Sharply and Patients May Not Be in a Rush to Reschedule Appointments

New TransUnion Healthcare analysis highlights the financial challenges providers are experiencing as a result of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for many healthcare providers, both for those who are located in “hot spots” as well as those located elsewhere that have experienced a decline in elective procedures and overall utilization. New TransUnion Healthcare (NYSE: TRU) research highlights the substantial decline in hospital visits across the nation during much of March and early April.

In the time since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic on March 11, TransUnion Healthcare’s analysis of 500+ hospitals across the United States indicates a decline of 32% - 60% in visit volumes between the weeks of March 1 and March 29 when compared against pre-COVID-19 volumes. This decline shows that patients recognized the need to adhere to stay-at-home and social distancing policies and that hospitals followed the guidance issued by CMS; thus, elective procedures were cancelled and patients avoided emergency department visits. The analysis further illustrates the profitability challenges impacting hospital providers as a result of the pandemic.

“The healthcare industry is facing immense challenges and pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially from a safety, clinical, and financial perspective,” said Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare. “As healthcare utilization rates continue to decline in much of the country, healthcare providers are doing their best to ensure that capacity exists so that they can treat COVID-19 patients, while simultaneously implementing a measured approach to resume elective procedures. However, our initial research indicates it may take some time before patients are ready to reschedule the elective procedures and appointments that were cancelled as a result of the pandemic.”

A recent TransUnion Healthcare survey from the week of April 13 backs this assertion. More than one in four patients surveyed (27%) said they had an elective surgery, appointment or procedure delayed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the patients who had an elective procedure deferred, nearly 50% indicate they will only reschedule once they no longer believe there is a high risk of COVID-19 infection or once guidelines advise it is safe.

“Elective procedures represent a large portion of a hospital’s revenue. Our latest research sheds light on the challenges that providers are facing as a result of decreased utilization and the subsequent financial impact,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion. “Healthcare providers – particularly those outside of COVID-19 ‘hot spot’ locations who deferred their elective cases early– are eager to re-start elective procedures to ensure their patients are receiving the required care and recover revenue as soon as possible.”

Early Guidelines to Ensure Patients Seek Appropriate Healthcare

Recently released guidelines outline elective surgery principles and considerations to guide physicians, nurses and local facilities after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While no one is certain of what’s yet to come, and given these constraints, it will be important for providers to leverage all resources available to them to build trusting relationships with their patients and maximize care delivery,” concluded Wiik.

For additional insights about the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry, Wiik is presenting a webinar on April 28 titled, “COVID-19: Addressing Financial and Operational Impacts to Providers,” and hosted by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). Healthcare professionals that are interested in learning more can register for the webinar here.

TransUnion Healthcare is closely following evolving utilization trends and will continue to provide insights into the extent of procedural volume recoveries by region as they unfold.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)

TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing a comprehensive picture of each person so they can be reliably and safely represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.®

TransUnion Healthcare, a wholly owned subsidiary of TransUnion, makes mutual trust possible between patients, providers, and payers by helping them navigate payment uncertainty. Our Revenue Protection® solutions leverage comprehensive data, accurate insights and industry expertise to engage patients early, ensure earned revenue gets paid and optimize payment strategies. TransUnion Healthcare helps over 1,850 hospitals and 550,000 physicians collectively recover more than $1.2 billion annually in revenue.

A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.