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Cancer screenings plunge more than 90% due to COVID-19

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 06, 2020
CT Rad Oncology Women's Health X-Ray

In addition to stay-at-home orders, declines in screenings have been influenced by how doctors' offices and diagnostic centers have responded to the pandemic, with some choosing to shut down completely and others staying open for emergencies or maintaining a skeleton crew of staff. A small fraction of screenings continued in recent weeks, which could possibly be for people who are especially worried about their risk of cancer.

Dvorak, who says the drop in screenings “shocked” him, hopes that the research will help Epic customers once they return to work develop plans for booking those who may have delayed cancer screenings, with one tactic being to prioritize calls for people at high risk, based on past irregular screenings or a family history.

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Epic aims to partner with its customers to research health outcomes associated with the data. It will also mine the data to see if it validates observations by its customers, including reports that brain surgeries have declined or that more emergency amputations have been performed on diabetics.

"Both Epic and the Epic customers that contribute their data will be doing research on the data to help advance medical knowledge," said Gerhart.

The findings were published in the Epic Health Research Network.

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