Utilization of Health Resources During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Israel: Meuhedet Health Services’ Real Data Analysis and Future Conclusions
Shmuel Klang1, *, Shahar Merling2, Sigal Rosenberg3, Galit Borchuk1, Meir Pugatch1
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2023
E-location ID: e187494452301300
Publisher ID: e187494452301300
Article History:Received Date: 11/10/2022
Revision Received Date: 20/01/2023
Acceptance Date: 23/01/2023
Electronic publication date: 29/03/2023
Collection year: 2023
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
This study aimed to examine the utilization of health resources during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel through the analysis of Meuhedet Health Services’ real-world database.
The history of COVID-19 in Israel comprises three waves: from February to May 2020, from May to November 2020, and from November 2020 to April 2021. Restrictions imposed on the Israeli population included travel limitations and even lockdowns. Meuhedet Health Services, the third largest health management organization in Israel, manages all its medical data through computerized electronic files and has collected various types of health services data from 2018 to 2020. This paper compared the consumption of Meuhedet Health Services over two consecutive years of the pandemic using a real-world database.
Electronic medical records from primary care physicians, laboratory tests, hospitalization medical histories, treatments in hospitals and institutes, visits to and treatments by community physicians, and prescriptions and medical equipment consumption were collected from 2018 to 2020. This research used aggregated, non-personalized, and decoded data from a cohort of insured individuals, and the research was approved by all the relevant institutional Helsinki Committees. The data analysis compared the corresponding data in a chosen month of the year with the data in the same month of the previous year. The differences were then scaled by the data corresponding to the month of the previous year, and the result was multiplied by 100 and plotted.
To analyze drug consumption, we used the fixed price of every drug in a year multiplied by the difference in consumption of the drug in question between the month of the current year and the same month of the previous year, multiplied by 100.
A significant decrease was noted in hospitalization days, general hospital outpatient clinic visits, general hospital emergency room visits, and total numbers of visits to community physicians during the first lockdown in the first wave of the pandemic in comparison to 2019. At the end of the lockdown, however, a compensatory increase was noted in all services. In terms of drug consumption, the data showed no differences in the effects of the different waves. Our findings revealed that the first wave of COVID-19 was a shock, with a significant reduction in the consumption of health services, but this decrease attenuated with the second wave due to immediate management interventions and safety rules implemented in hospitals and clinics.
People shun medical services during a fast-spreading epidemic that causes significant mortality. Since new variants of COVID-19 could be part of our lives for the next few years, we should learn how to continue living with the pandemic and develop alternative medical services to maintain healthy states. Digitization, remote services, telemedicine, and home care, including home hospitalization, should be part of the health services to cope with pandemic situations.