A Real Economy publication

COVID-19 trends in health care: Fall 2022

Aug 19, 2022

Economic impact of COVID-19 on the health care industry key takeaways

The long-term pandemic impact will not be known for some time. In the short term, increased cost pressures on health systems persist.

The pandemic affected overall clinical quality and patient experience.

Providers must focus their efforts to improve patient satisfaction while managing margin.

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Health care Economics

The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will not be known for some time. In the short term we have seen increased cost pressures on health systems nationwide, as they spend more and more on everything they need to provide medical care. The majority of health systems’ expenses is related to their labor force, and costs for labor have risen dramatically. As the following chart shows, those costs are up by over 27% from 2020 and 13% from 2021. As expenses continue to rise, the pressure on health systems to manage margin intensifies. 

Rising costs in the health care industry due to COVID-19

Rising costs in health care bar chart | Economic impact of COVID-19 on the health care industry
Rising costs in the health care industry due to COVID-19

Patient satisfaction impact

The impact of COVID-19 extends beyond the cost of labor and other expenses. The pandemic has affected overall clinical quality and patient experience. Most health care executives are familiar with the CMS’s Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). A study performed by Leapfrog found that, based on data from both CMS and Leapfrog, nearly every measure of patient satisfaction declined mid-pandemic (defined as July 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021) as compared to pre-pandemic (defined as calendar year 2019). Most notable was satisfaction with the responsiveness of hospital staff, which decreased 4%. Almost as concerning was the decrease of 3% in relation to hospital cleanliness. 

Patient satisfaction

Patient satisfaction bar chart | Economic impact of COVID-19 on the health care industry
Patient satisfaction

Overcoming the pandemic

The takeaway for a health care provider is that patients have felt the effects of the staffing shortages and the overall strain that the pandemic has put on the health care ecosystem. As consumerism continues to be a driving force in health care, patient satisfaction will be critically important. Health care providers need to consider how to focus their efforts to maintain, or even improve, patient satisfaction, while managing margin. To accomplish this task may require the use of technology or reassessing the processes and procedures utilized within the organization.

RSM contributors

More from the fall 2022 health care industry outlook

RSM Virtual Health Care Day 2022

Join the chief medical officer for the national Blue Zones Project, RSM US LLP’s chief economist, our health care industry professionals and other industry leaders for this CPE-eligible event.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT

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