Industry stakeholders continue to pay close attention to the volumes of procedures – especially orthopedic surgery – as COVID-19 continues to rage in many parts of the United States.
A recent MD + DI interview with a Renton, WA-based orthopedic surgeon and industry executive provided important insight into the challenges surgeons have faced since COVID-19, and how digital technology helped offset some of these challenges. Today, a survey by Kyle Rose of Canaccord Genuity provides additional insight into current orthopedic surgery volumes and sustainability issues.
Rose compared the recent survey results to those of similar orthopedic surgery surveys the company conducted in March, April and May. The investigation also comes on the heels of an executive order by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in late June to suspend elective surgery as the state has become a hotspot for COVID-19 cases.
“In summary, as we saw a sharp rebound in volumes at the end of the second quarter, this survey raises more questions about the sustainability of this rebound which continues month-over-month into the second half of the year. ‘year, especially on increasing case volumes as well as catching up demand relative to the flow of new patients, ”Rose said in her latest report on the matter.
According to Rose, 94% of the 50 orthopedic surgeons who responded to the firm’s latest survey said they saw existing and new patients in person, up from 86% in May and just 28% and 26% in April and March. Likewise, 70% of those surveyed reported performing elective orthopedic surgeries, compared to 58%, 2% and 0% in May, April and March, respectively.
Nonetheless, the survey also suggests little improvement in year-over-year declines in intervention volumes, with responses pointing to a 43% drop in June, which was only slightly higher than Canaccord’s previous polls on the question. The chart below illustrates the year-over-year expectations for fourth quarter orthopedic surgery volumes.
Surgeons also appear less optimistic that orthopedic surgery volumes will return to normal by the end of 2020. Rose said the percentage of respondents expecting normalization in the third trimester has fallen to 8% (from 18%). % in May and 32% in April), and the percent expecting a normalization in the fourth quarter fell to 18% (from 27% in May and 46% in April). This finding is further reinforced by the fact that the percentage of respondents expecting normalization in the second half of 2021 has actually risen to 28% (down from 14% in May and 0% in April).
“The moderate change in volume expectations despite the improvement in the percentage of physicians returning to the clinic is potentially linked to increased concerns about increasing case volumes,” said Rose. He added that 82% of those polled expect a second wave of COVID-19 cases to impact their practice in the second half of this year.
Additionally, the majority of respondents’ existing orthopedic surgery cases are patients whose surgeries were previously deferred, rather than new patients, Rose said.
The survey also brings additional bad news for manufacturers of medical devices in the orthopedic field. Rose said doctors’ willingness to try new technology, orthopedic surgery techniques that require training, and participate in clinical trials appears to have “worsened significantly” for the second month in a row.