New survey explores how rheumatologists are managing changing reimbursement and impacts of COVID-19

Oct. 7, 2021

While demand for rheumatology care continues to grow, rheumatologists are feeling pressured by reimbursement changes, administrative duties and workforce shortages. These findings were released in the latest edition of Rheumatology Insights, a research-based report published by Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions and announced in a press release.

Based on surveys with more than 85 U.S. rheumatologists, Rheumatology Insights focuses on key trends impacting one of the fastest-growing areas of specialty medicine.

Value-based care and the changing reimbursement landscape were cited as the top challenges facing rheumatologists by 28% of those surveyed, followed closely by increasing administrative duties (24%) and the lack of providers to support patient needs (18%). In addition, 61% said reimbursement has declined over the past year – though a small portion of respondents have counterbalanced the decrease with new sources of revenue. Looking forward, 59% said recent changes in reimbursement on self-administered products would have a "significant negative" or "somewhat negative" impact on their practices, but 38% do not have a plan to address the shortfall.

The survey also explored rheumatologists' perspectives on the effect of COVID-19 on patient care, and their views on the potential impact of artificial intelligence on the future of rheumatology care:

  • While only 20% of rheumatologists were using telemedicine prior to the pandemic, 93% say they expect to continue using it after the end of the pandemic, primarily for patients who lack transportation or are immunocompromised.
  • 90% of surveyed rheumatologists agreed that social and economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic (including higher unemployment and social isolation) have had a negative impact on the health of their patients, and 83% said mental health support for patients is a key unmet need that was revealed by the pandemic.
  • Despite a growing body of research on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in rheumatology, more than half of survey respondents (56%) said they are not very familiar with the use of AI and machine learning in healthcare, and less than a quarter of respondents believe AI will have a significant impact on rheumatology care over the next three years.

Cardinal Health release

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