The Australian Government first implemented healthcare restrictions in March 2020 in order to limit virus transmission and protect hospital capacity .
These restrictions led to an abrupt decline in demand for a range of healthcare services in Australia, including diagnostic radiology [2,3].
Concerningly, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed significantly reduced during the pandemic .
Radiation oncology services underwent operational changes with a view to maintain healthcare delivery in a safe manner during the pandemic .
These changes included extension of the clinical treatment...
Methods and materials
Monthly data was extracted from the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule database (Category 3 – Group T2) for all therapeutic radiation oncology services performed between January 2017 and December 2019 .
An additive triple exponential smoothing model was developed for total therapeutic radiation oncology services, accounting for trend over time and seasonality.
The model was built using monthly data between January 2017 and December 2019 to predict monthly data between January 2020 and December 2020 with a 95% confidence interval (p<0.05).
Observed monthly services between January...
There were no statistically significant differences between observed and predicted therapeutic radiation oncology services delivered in Australia in 2020.
Based on data from January 2017 to December 2019, the triple exponential smoothing predicted that there would be a total of 2,575,163 (95% CI: 2,318,908 – 2,831,418) therapeutic radiation oncology services delivered in 2020.
The observed number of services delivered in 2020 was 2,563,034 (-0.5% of predicted, 95% CI: -9.5% to 10.5%).
Further, there were still no statistically significant differences between predicted and observed number of...
The present study demonstrated that therapeutic radiation oncology services continued to be delivered at usual volumes despite national lockdown measures and restrictions on healthcare delivery during 2020.
The maintenance of timely service delivery in radiation oncology is important given the potential consequences of delayed treatment in oncological patients.
1. Australian Government. Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Canberra, ACT. 2020.2. Scott, A. The impact of COVID-19 on GPs and non-GP specialists in private practice. Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne. 2020.3. Sreedharan et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diagnostic imaging services in Australia. JMIRO. 2021; online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1111/1754-9485.13291.4. te Marvelde et al. Decline in cancer pathology notifications during the 2020 COVID-19-related restrictions in Victoria. Med J Aust. 2021;...