The IBD Registry has presented data at the British Society for Gastroenterology’s 2021 Annual Meeting Online showing the impact of COVID-19 on care and prescribing for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Addressing delegates on 8 November, Dr Keith Bodger, Consultant Gastroenterologist and IBD Registry Academic Lead, presented a comparison of data submitted to the Registry for the immediate post-COVID period (April to June 2020) with the corresponding quarter of 2019 (you can see the poster here).
We looked at changes in the number of face-to-face and non-face-to-face contacts between patients and their IBD doctor or nurse, rates of new diagnoses and rates of prescribing. Our aim was to gain insights into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on IBD care.
The analysis suggests that disruption to services led to an 18% reduction overall in contacts recorded in the immediate post-COVID period, compared with the same period in 2019. Face-to-face contacts were reduced by 65% but this was accompanied by a 78% rise in remote contacts.
The rate of new diagnoses (the number of patients diagnosed during the period of study per 1,000 contacts with patients recorded in that same period) also fell by 74% in the immediate post-COVID period. It may be that care for new or undiagnosed patients saw greater disruption due to the pandemic than care for existing IBD patients.
During the early stages of the pandemic, there was some uncertainty about the impact of COVID-19 on the safety of different drugs prescribed for people with IBD. The results of our analysis showed that rates of prescribing for corticosteroids, immunosuppressants and biologic treatments all fell in the immediate post-COVID period compared with the same period in 2019. The greatest reduction was seen in prescribing levels for thiopurine drugs, which fell by 81%.
The pressures of the pandemic have understandably impacted the ability of some teams to collect and submit data. This should be considered when reporting trends using Registry data collected during this period. However, we are currently analysing data from hospitals that have been able to submit data consistently during this time. We aim to work with them to report some further longer-term trends related to IBD care during the pandemic and will report these on our Analysis and Research page in the coming months.