Pourang A, Olds H, Ezekwe N, Lim HW, and Hamzavi I. 28522 The impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on phototherapy utilization. J Am Acad Dermatol 2021; 85(3):AB194.
J Am Acad Dermatol
Phototherapy is a mainstay of treatment for several dermatologic conditions. Patients often require multiple treatments per week for several weeks to months to achieve treatment efficacy. The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic caused many dermatology clinics to close completely or significantly reduce patient volumes, which may have limited patient access to this beneficial treatment. This retrospective study examines the pandemic’s impact on phototherapy treatment rates and reimbursement at one major tertiary care center and five locations of a private dermatology clinic in Southeast Michigan. Phototherapy CPT reimbursement data from March 1-June 30, 2020 was compared with the same timeframe in 2019. Units of phototherapy performed decreased by an average of 84%, and there was an average decrease of 43% in the number of unique patients receiving treatments. Reimbursement for phototherapy decreased by an average of 83%. The drastic decline in phototherapy reimbursement is a reflection of the pandemic’s financial impact and likely correlates to a larger scale of revenue loss in dermatology practices. Adequate phototherapy treatment was also likely delayed for many patients. As the pandemic continues, implementation of home phototherapy treatments may be necessary for patients to receive proper treatment and to minimize the impact of loss of revenue due to limited in-office phototherapy. Precautions will need to be taken to guarantee the safety of patients and the care team for patients to receive optimal in-office phototherapy treatment. The pandemic’s impact on medical dermatology finances could potentially destabilize access to patients who need this safe and effective treatment.