Electronic health record software provider Epic released data indicating that appointments for cervix, colon, and breast cancer screenings have dropped between 86 percent and 94 percent compared to average volumes in the three years before the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in the U.S.
At the end of April, Komodo Health released the results of a study assessing records from 320 million U.S. patients, and the results are in alignment with those of Epic, even if the decline isn’t as steep according to Komodo’s assessment, which shows that cervical cancer screenings dropped by as much as 68 percent between March 19 and April 20, 2020, compared to the previous 11 weeks and a comparable period last year.
“We’re seeing a tremendous impact on preventive care, as well as on chronic conditions with massive implications for the healthcare system,” Komodo Health CEO Dr. Arif Nathoo told Reuters. “It speaks volumes to just how much COVID is impacting everyone’s health and wellness.”
Komodo found the sharpest decline in tests and screenings happened in areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York’s Manhattan, for example, A1c blood tests for diabetes dropped by more than 90 percent. In Massachusetts, cholesterol testing fell by 80.5 percent, and in California, screenings to detect cervical cancer were down by 76.3 percent.
“I anticipate that cancer screenings such as mammograms, pap smears, and colonoscopies will increase as people are able to get in to the clinic and get them done,” said Jackie Gerhart, a physician on Epic’s clinical informatics team. “This will depend on the capacity for clinics to do these tests. Screening tests, by definition, are done when the patient is asymptomatic. A delay of 4 weeks might not be significant, but a delay of 4 months might be.”
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