The year 2020 was highly exceptional for medical services because of the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for our services decreased, which is completely anomalous.
In 2020, HUS specialist medical care and joint emergency clinics treated a total of 682,385 patients. In specialist medical care, we treated 612,202 patients in our own services and outsourced services. The number of patients in specialist medical care was 4.2% higher than in the previous year.
Our specialist medical care services were used by 571,461 residents of member municipalities, an increase of 26,922 residents on the previous year. A considerable percentage of this growth is due to the number of coronavirus samples taken at specialist medical care appointments. About one in three of the residents of member municipalities used specialist medical care services provided or organized by HUS in 2020.
We have about 3,000 hospital and care beds in all.
Fewer referrals and emergency clinic visits
We received about 315,300 elective referrals in 2020, down 7.7% on the previous year. HUS received 1,250 elective referrals every weekday on average, as opposed to 1,360 in 2019. This number is indicative only, because we were obliged to combine data from two patient information systems manually.
The greatest change was observed in the number of psychiatry referrals, which increased by 28.1% on the previous year. In almost all other specialties, the number of referrals decreased in 2020. The greatest decrease was observed in the ear, nose and throat specialty (-22%) and in the dental, oral and maxillofacial specialty (-19.8%).
The number of emergency clinic visits for specialist medical care (261,649) decreased by 12.5% on the previous year. In 2020, our hospitals logged an average of 715 emergency department visits for specialist medical care per day.
Substantial increase in the use of online services
The medical service production volume exceeded the budget by 5.4% and grew by 1.8% compared to the previous year. This growth is explained by a very substantial increase in the use of online services, nearly 700% on the previous year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we aimed to convert as many elective procedures as possible to remote consultations. This translated into a significant growth in online services as of April 2020.
The combined number of booked outpatient appointment products at our units decreased by 4.6% on the previous year. There were 2,223,845 booked appointments in all.
Although the coronavirus pandemic had a substantial impact on our appointment bookings, we were able to carry out emergency surgical procedures at an almost normal level. We were able to greatly increase the number of elective surgeries performed between June and December. The number of such operations in the second half of the year was only 5% less than in the same period in the previous year.