The American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a nationwide online survey (during July and August) of 3,500 physicians to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices. The summary of the survey represents the effect of COVID-19 on income, use of telemedicine, availability and cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the usefulness of the various federal financial relief programs. Key findings include:
- Income: 81% of physicians said that their income this summer was still lower than it was in February, before the pandemic began to escalate. The average revenue drop was 32%.
- Telehealth: The use of telehealth expanded significantly with eased coverage restrictions, although this revenue stream did not completely offset the decline in in-office visits.
- PPE: Spending on PPE is up, with physician-owned practices having the most difficult time acquiring these supplies.
- Federal Funding: Most physicians who applied for federal relief funds were successful and found it helpful.
The College surveyed its members at the beginning of the pandemic in April and again in August. While the College and AMA’s survey questions were not the same, we can see some similarities when compared to our allergy-specific COVID-19 survey results:
- 79% of August survey respondents said their charges from March through July 2020 have declined from the same period last year.
- Close to 40% saw a 26-50% decrease over last year, 24% saw a 0-25% decrease, and 13% experienced a 51-75% decrease. 16% weren’t sure, and 4% didn’t experience any decline over the prior year.
- After COVID-19 hit, April survey respondents reported telemedicine visits jumped to 54% of all patient visits, and in-person visits dropped to 30%.
- By August, in-person visits recovered somewhat. Telemedicine visits dropped to 23%, with in-person visits increasing to 66% of all visits.
- Practices reported having an easier time obtaining an adequate supply of PPE in the August survey relative to the April survey.
- In August, 86% said they had been able to maintain an adequate supply of PPE, compared with only 67% in April.
- Many allergists reported receiving financial assistance. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the most popular loan program, with 65% responding they received or expected to receive a PPP loan.
- 35% received or expected to receive funds from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Program.
While allergy is a small specialty, the results of these two surveys demonstrate similar impact of COVID-19 across medicine nationwide. The Advocacy Council – we have you covered.