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Researchers to evaluate how outbreaks affective non-elective surgeries and preventative care

John Moran, associate professor of health policy and administration, and Joel Segel, assistant professor of health policy and administration, have been funded by the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences for their project “Reductions in Necessary Care as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” 

As medical services are likely to be constrained and treatment for other diseases delayed during an outbreak like COVID-19, Moran, Segel, and a team of researchers will evaluate how non-elective surgeries and preventative care visits are addressed during public health crises. 

The team will examine how non-COVID-19 health care visits are scheduled and prescriptions are filled for acute and chronic disease care in a cohort of patients in Pennsylvania. 

“The rapid growth of COVID-19 infections has created numerous, ongoing problems for health insurance plans and health care providers,” said Moran. “For providers, chief among these has been the need to reallocate substantial resources to deal with surges of COVID-19 patients.  Providers appear to have responded well to this challenge, albeit at the cost of creating a large backlog of postponed care among non-COVID-19 patients.  Understanding the type and amount of deferred care will be necessary for attending to the needs of patients, as well as determining the long-run financial impacts on insurers and other purchasers of medical care.” 

According to Segel, “As the COVID-19 pandemic has led to cancellations of many services and fear by patients of getting necessary health care, it is critically important that we understand what care may be missed, what the impact of this is, and how we can ensure patients can safely access the care they need.” 

In addition to Moran and Segel, collaborators at Penn State include Dennis Scanlon, Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration and director of the Center for Health Care and Policy Research; Kevin Black, MD, interim dean and professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Penn State College of Medicine; William Bird, DO, professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; and Gregory Stoner, senior director of compensation and benefits at Penn State. 

As part of Penn State’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences has awarded seed-funding for COVID-19 projects university-wide. The projects span six core research areas, including social sciences, which address how COVID-19 has shaped health care messaging, public policy, and mental health beyond the immediate health impacts of the virus. For more information, visit Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences COVID-19 Research Response.