May 19, 2020 - Health

Spine and joint procedures have taken a dive during the pandemic

Adapted from Strata Decision Technology; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Hospitals and outpatient offices have canceled elective procedures and surgeries en masse to prepare for the coronavirus, but some treatments have been more "elective" than others.

The big picture: Health care services have fallen across the board. The most pronounced drops have come in eye, spine and joint replacement surgeries.

By the numbers: Volumes this year for pretty much every hospital service have plummeted by at least 33% when compared with the same six-week stretch in 2019, according to a new analysis by hospital software firm Strata Decision Technology, which looked at procedure volume data at 51 hospital systems.

  • This includes major drops in lucrative, high-volume hospital specialties such as spine (45%), orthopedics (43%) and cardiology (35%).
  • Outpatient specialties that have quicker procedures, like those in ophthalmology (50%) and dermatology (44%), have fallen the most.
  • Cancer procedures have declined less than most others (18%), given the necessity of care.

Between the lines: Some specific procedures within these specialties have fallen even more than the averages show.

  • For example, within orthopedics, hospitals have almost completely stopped knee replacement surgeries in April, and they've dropped in total by more than 68% when comparing the same six-week periods in 2019 and 2020.
  • Hip replacements are down 52%.

The big picture: Hospitals and outpatient offices are starting to resume some of these operations depending on their states' coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, but the volumes likely won't return quickly as people fear the risks of catching the coronavirus in a health care setting.

Go deeper: Coronavirus is obliterating outpatient care

Go deeper

Coronavirus accelerates AI in health care

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From predicting outbreaks to devising treatments, doctors are turning to AI in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: While machine learning algorithms were already becoming a part of health care, COVID-19 is likely to accelerate their adoption. But lack of data and testing time could hinder their effectiveness — for this pandemic, at least.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,722,859 — Total deaths: 356,435 — Total recoveries — 2,374,387Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,702,911 — Total deaths: 100,576 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Business: U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter — 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  4. States: America's megacities could lose economic growth due to remote work.
  5. 2020: Joe Biden to speak virtually at Texas Democratic Convention.
  6. ✈️Transportation: What airlines are offering passengers to ensure social distancing.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy