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HVPCI surges to highest level of the year as COVID-19 fears lessen and schools begin to reopen

September 3, 2020 - Philadelphia, PA - HealthVerity announced the biweekly update to its HealthVerity Patient Confidence Index, or HVPCI, and reported a national score of 90, a four point increase from the previous period. The index increased to its highest level since inception and remains at a “Stable” level, reflecting consistent patient engagement across the US healthcare system.

The HVPCI represents a measure of physician visits undertaken by non-COVID-19 patients across 20 key therapeutic areas, highlighting a significant decline in visits since the pandemic took hold in the US at the beginning of March. The HVPCI is crucial as an expression of the confidence in patients to seek care for acute and chronic illnesses balanced with the risk of exposure to the coronavirus in a public setting. As coronavirus cases peak and eventually subside, this indicator will ultimately serve as an overall measure of US patient engagement between patients and their physicians. 

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This week’s national score of 90, or Stable, marks the fourth published score within this indexed range.  Against a pre-pandemic score of 100, patient engagement, both traditional visits and telehealth visits, increased slightly, yet total visits remain nearly 20% below what was reported during the same period in 2019.  Even so, the index experienced dramatic increases in key specialities with eight specialities rebounding by 10% or more from the previous period.

Infectious disease, one of the key areas tracked for the HVPCI, remains the highest ranked speciality at 109 and experienced a thirteen point increase from its prior level. More importantly, however, pediatrics rose to its highest level since March (95, +10) even as visits in the prior year had declined period over period.  This trend may be a function of the pent-up demand for pediatric well visits in addition to the pace of coronavirus testing ahead of the return to in-person schooling in most municipalities.

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As mentioned earlier, nearly half of the tracked specialties reported sharp increases from the previous index, with ophthalmology (98, +10), rheumatology (90, +10), dermatology (87, +8) and pulmonology (78, +9) exhibiting major moves. Psychology/behavioral health (66, -3), the only speciality below 70, and gastroenterology (95, -2) were the only two major specialities to experience a decline in the index. 

“The HVPCI remains one of the most important indicators of the strength of the US healthcare system and continues to reflect a rebound in patient confidence in the safety of that system ,” said Andrew Goldberg, chief operating officer at HealthVerity. “All eyes remain focused on the delicate experiment of back to school plans, the impact of mask wearing and social distancing on the pending influenza season and the concern for a spike in COVID-19 as Fall weather forces activities back indoors.”

Telehealth visits declined for the eighth straight period, with total share accounting for just 9.0% of all physician visits in the data supporting the index. One note of interest is that telehealth visits for patients over 65 years old remained flat versus the prior period, suggesting a slightly greater caution among more vulnerable populations to return to physician offices as well as the longer-term trend of convenience over physical presence for older patients.

Learn more about HealthVerity’s efforts to educate and inform on COVID-19 here