As United States medical professionals continue to press on through the COVID-19 pandemic, studies continue to highlight how severely unprepared many US hospitals have been when the pandemic began. Not only that, the economic pressure brought on by mass unemployment and the rise of operational costs seen this year has made dealing with the virus a double threat. This is in spite of the fact that the United States could save $175 billion in healthcare costs by halving administrative costs.
Regardless, new insights have revealed that increasing hospital efficiency will directly affect COVID-19 survival rates for the better.
The Difficult Reality
The most recent report from the CDC lists the United States COVID-19 death toll as being over 200,000. However, to get a better picture of how this relates to hospital efficiency, let’s focus on New York as an example.
As reported by the New York Times, patients at some community hospitals were three times more likely to die as compared to patients in medical centers in the wealthiest parts of New York City. This means that some patients are placed in greater danger due to the mere disparities between the economic status of select hospitals. Not only that, but the fact that community hospitals often see a higher rate of visitation than more expensive ones should be greatly troubling.
Why COVID Struck So Hard
Underfunded hospitals in neighborhoods hit the hardest often had lower staffing, worse equipment, and less access to drug trials and advanced treatments at the height of the crisis than the private, well-financed academic medical centers in wealthy parts of Manhattan. These models of hospital care logically correlate with the high COVID mortality rate observed in the tri-state area as a whole.
Moreover, this information presents the precise areas where underfunded hospitals need to be reinforced, especially emphasizing access to better types of equipment and treatments.
While the inequalities in hospital access weren’t caused by the pandemic, it was certainly made clearer through the challenges presented by the current crisis. Hospitals with fewer resources were less prepared to deal with the high influx of COVID-19 patients, thus revealing the need for an increase in hospital efficiency.
Though there is room for improvement in every hospital, it is especially important for hospitals in low-income areas to receive the resources they need to properly treat COVID-19 patients.
This leads to conclude that, in order to perform proper data analysis, mortality rates must be segmented by a secondary axis that reveals their level of access to quality care, such as economic status, area of residence, or others. Refusing to perform this deep level of analysis would run the risk of perpetuating critical issues that these hospitals — which often care for the most fragile segments of our communities — are already dealing with.