Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Telehealth and In-Person Visits: Implications from an Emergency Department in Argentina
Maria Florencia Grande Ratti, Santiago Andrés Frid, Paz Rodriguez, Javier Alberto Pollan, Luciana Rovegno, Jorge Ariel Esteban, Daniel Luna, Bernardo Julio Martinez, Ana Soledad Pedretti, Fernando Plazzotta
Since Argentina’s government declared a national emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with a lockdown status, it has produced consequences on the healthcare system. We aimed to quantify the effect on the Emergency Department (ED) visits at Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires. Our electronic health data showed that ED in-person visits declined 46% during the COVID-19 pandemic, from an overall of 176,370 visits during 2019 to 95,421 visits during 2020. Simultaneously, there was a telehealth visits boom when mandatory quarantine began (March 20, 2020): from a median of 12 daily in February 2020 to a median of 338 daily in April 2020; reaching a maximum daily peak of 1,132 on March 26 2020. For a while, teleconsultations replaced ED visits. Then, when face-to-face visits began to increase, teleconsultations began to decrease slowly, as the phenomenon reversed.
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