Texas A&M study shows COVID-19 hospitalization costs and outcomes improved through end of 2020

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:56 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A Texas A&M study shows that COVID-19 hospitalization costs and outcomes improved over time through the end of 2020.

The study analyzed cost data of roughly 250,000 COVID hospitalizations across the country between April and December of 2020.

“The study made use of a database called the Premier Health Database, which collects hospital cost data from U.S. hospitals,” Texas A&M School of Public Health Regents Professor Robert Ohsfeldt said. “We wanted to be able to document the cost of hospitalizations in detail across different types of patients and situations.”

Their analysis found all kinds of trends related to costs, length of stay, and patient demographics. But one of the more significant findings is that length of stay fell by three days and median costs decreased by 35% for ICU patients over this period of time.

”It seems reasonable to speculate that the clinicians were learning how to better treat patients over time and were able to do so more efficiently as the pandemic progressed,” Ohsfeldt said. “If these sorts of trends are continuing, then it’s reasonable to have some optimism that things will be getting better as we go forward in the pandemic.”

The study found the overall median hospital length of stay was six days with a median total cost of $11,267. Those same metrics for ICU patients were five days and $13,443. Patients who were put onto ventilators had the highest costs and longest length of stays. The study also found that major drivers of costs, lengthy stays, and higher risks of death included older age, Black and Caucasian race, hypertension and obesity, treatment with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and discharge to long-term care facilities.

“We were able to account for major changes in the way hospitalized patients were treated in terms of whether or not they received mechanical ventilation, or whether or not they were admitted to the ICU,” Ohsfeldt said. “We did not have electronic health record data. We had cost data, so in terms of details about exactly how they were treated, we weren’t able to track that.”

The findings from this study are currently being used to help shape the economic evaluation of future COVID treatments. Researchers say it will be useful for disease burden forecasts and local healthcare resource decisions.

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