OIG Study: Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized With COVID-19 Experienced a Wide Range of Serious, Complex Conditions

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

OIG released the results of its on August 30, 2021.  The complete report is 28 pages in length.

“This report describes the complex care needs of beneficiaries hospitalized with COVID-19. It focuses on surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations in six localities and builds upon prior OIG work that describes the extent to which hospitals have been strained by COVID-19. As we noted in the 2021 report about hospital experiences during the pandemic, hospitals have been operating in “survival mode” for an extended period of time. They have also experienced difficulty balancing the complex and resource-intensive care needed for COVID-19 patients with efforts to resume routine hospital care.”

The study’s conclusion:

“The complex needs of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries—combined with surges in hospitalizations-may create substantial challenges in meeting the needs of these patients, particularly in light of the staffing and other problems that hospitals have reported. Gaining a better understanding of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with COVID-19—including the conditions for which they were being treated and demographic characteristics—can assist Federal, State, and local efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic and may be used to provide additional guidance to hospitals. This information can also help hospitals, physicians, and other practitioners better prepare for the complex and resource-intensive care needs of Medicare beneficiaries with COVID-19, which may be particularly important during continued surges of the virus. CMS can also use this information to identify beneficiaries who are particularly vulnerable to hospitalization as well as to understand the needs of these beneficiaries during their hospitalizations. In addition, this analysis shows that Medicare claims data can be used to enhance our knowledge of the treatment of COVID-19 and help inform additional research efforts.”

This is the COVID-19 Hospitalizations Interactive Map that “is a supplement to the OIG report Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized With COVID-19 Experienced a Wide Range of Serious, Complex Conditions. The interactive map tracks changes in the rate of hospitalizations of Medicare beneficiaries with COVID-19 by locality from April through July of 2020. It illustrates how the rates of Medicare beneficiaries needing hospitalization can surge and decline over time across localities.”

Map Highlights show this overall view:

Be sure to check out the 6 Appendices in the report.  Very thought-provoking data!