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Pandemic Led to 25% Drop in Health Care Visits: New Analysis of Data From Colorado Health Providers Illuminates Gaps in Care in 2020

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 21, 2021

One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s most profound impacts on the health of Coloradans was not directly connected to the virus itself: As the state shut down and leaders encouraged people to stay home, the use of health care services in Colorado dropped precipitously.

A new report from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) quantifies for the first time the magnitude of missed care in the Denver area during 2020.

CHI analyzed data from the Colorado Health Observation Regional Data Service (CHORDS) to understand how the pandemic affected Coloradans’ use of health care services. CHI also interviewed health care providers to understand their experiences with missed health care during the pandemic.

The findings from this research are available in Fear and Missing Out: New Data Quantify Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on Coloradans’ Health Care Visits in 2020, published this month.

The use of health care was down by about 25% between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2020 compared with the year before.

“COVID-19 caused many Coloradans to miss vital health care services, including treatment for serious conditions such as cancer and care for acute problems like heart attacks,” said Michele Lueck, President and CEO of CHI. “This report is a reminder and a warning that we must focus on reconnecting people with services and addressing other health issues that went undiagnosed or worsened during the first months of the pandemic.”

Insights from the report include:

  • People with chronic diseases, those diagnosed with depression, and those over age 65 missed the most care. 
  • Care volumes for serious conditions such as cancer and for emergency department use decreased by more than 20%. 
  • Some Coloradans put off care for acute events like heart attacks and strokes — conditions that require rapid treatment for the best chance at a full recovery. 
  • Tests and screenings necessary to diagnose illnesses also decreased, in some cases by much more than 25%, which will likely lead to health concerns in the future.
  • The volume of behavioral health visits decreased at a time when Coloradans were disconnected from their families, jobs, and usual sources of care.
  • These declines took place despite an increase in the use of telemedicine for remote patient visits. 

Read the report for more information about the to find out which diagnoses and services were most affected and why Coloradans got less care.

View a recording of a webinar to learn more about the findings from the report’s authors.


About CHORDS

CHORDS aggregates medical and behavioral health data from 14 contributing providers. The information does not identify patients and does not include protected health records. It is meant to pinpoint pressing health needs in a community and suggest potential responses. CHORDS is facilitated by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI).


About the Colorado Health Institute

The Colorado Health Institute is a nonprofit and independent health policy research organization. CHI believes that good health policy leads to a healthier Colorado. Every day we bring research, insight, and expertise to leaders across the state, because informed decisions lead to better health for all.


Contact for the Colorado Health Institute

Joe Hanel, communications director, hanelj@coloradohealthinstitute.org or 720.382.7093

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