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May 29, 2020

Return to normal life post-Covid-19 still a long way off

By GlobalData Healthcare

From the crowds rushing back to the beaches on Memorial Day to the constant pushes from the public to open up schools and malls, it seems like we’re all ready for the lockdown to end and for a return to normal life post-Covid-19. However, Covid-19 seems to have other ideas.

Covid-19 has dealt a massive blow to the healthcare industry already, with medtech giant Medtronic posting a drop of 26% in its Q4 revenue alone, and they expect Q1 to be even worse. This isn’t just on the manufacturer side, either; hospitals across America suffered a 174% drop in their operating margins due to a drop in surgeries and appointments, and the end is still months off.

Even if hospitals were to make arrangements to reduce the risk of infection, surveyed patients still said that they were wary of going in for non-emergency appointments. If this situation keeps up for an extended period of time, the American healthcare system would need a lot of external aid to avoid total collapse. As it is expected to take anywhere from three months to the start of 2021 for patient levels to return to normal, the prognosis for the healthcare sector isn’t looking good at all.

However, not every surgery can be put off forever. Quality of life or elective surgeries such as hip replacements or cosmetic surgeries may be put off indefinitely, but some surgeries can be life-saving (such as coronary bypasses) and as such, will see a relatively quick return to normal as patients can only push these off for so long. In these at least, hospitals will have a lifeline in these trying times.

While the rate of return of patient volumes will vary on a market-to-market basis, the necessity of the surgery coupled with the recovery time and potential exposure for each surgery type will probably play strongly into the reuptake speeds of the surgeries.

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