The campaign, which aims to encourage people to get healthcare when they need it, comes as providers across the country have seen a dramatic drop in visits and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six of Los Angeles County's largest nonprofit health systems with hospitals, clinics, and care facilities are teaming for BetterTogether.Health, a campaign that aims to encourage people to get healthcare when they need it, despite the current pandemic.
The campaign, from Cedars-Sinai, Dignity Health, Providence, UCLA Health, Keck Medicine of USC, and Kaiser Permanente, comes as hospitals and healthcare provider offices across the country have seen a dramatic drop in visits and revenue.
"We know many patients who in the past dialed 911 for life-threatening emergencies are now not accessing these vital services quickly," Julie Sprengel, President, Southwest Division of Dignity Health Hospitals, CommonSpirit Health, said in a statement. "We are instead seeing patients that delayed, postponed or cancelled care coming to emergency departments with serious conditions that should have been treated far earlier."
Indeed, outpatient hospital visits experienced a record one-week 64% decline during the week of April 5-11, compared to pre-COVID-19 volumes, according to research from TransUnion Healthcare. In addition, hospital visit volumes further declined 33%-62% between the weeks of March 1-7 and April 12-18.
Those stats were echoed in a Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) survey last month showing that physician practices reported a 60% average decrease in patient volume and a 55% average decrease in revenue since the beginning of the public health emergency.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of hospital executives expect full year revenues will decline by at least 15% due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, according to a Guidehouse analysis of a survey conducted by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).
The campaign's website and PSAs communicate messages like "Life may be on pause. Your health isn't.," "Thanks L.A. for doing your part.," and "Get care when you need it."
In addition to lost revenue, healthcare providers are warning of a "silent sub-epidemic" of those who are avoiding getting medical care when they need it, which could result in serious, negative health consequences that could be avoided.
"There is concern that patients with serious conditions are putting off critical treatments," Tom Jackiewicz, CEO of Keck Medicine of USC, said in a statement. "We know that seeking immediate care for heart attacks and strokes can be life-saving and may minimize long-term effects. Our hospitals and health care providers are ready and open to serve your needs."
The BetterTogether.Health public service effort combines those health systems' resources to create a joint message that will include multi-language television and radio spots, and billboards, messages in newspapers, magazines, digital, and social media; online information, and links to healthcare resources.
It's reminding people to seek care for things ranging from heart attack symptoms to keeping up with children's immunization schedules.
"Receiving timely treatment by skilled medical professionals is essential to helping us achieve for our patients and communities the best possible outcomes," Tom Priselac, President and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System. "Please do not delay getting your health care. We encourage you to call a trusted health care provider like your doctor's office, hospital or urgent care center."
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.