Newly available data shows that the rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the fall of 2020 was accompanied by a decline in non-COVID-19 hospital admissions during that time period. Our analysis includes medical records data of hospital admissions through December 5, 2020 from the Epic Health Research Network and updates an earlier paper that analyzed hospital admissions data through August 8, 2020. These new data provide additional information to help assess the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitals and insurers and also adds to our understanding of the extent to which people are continuing to delay or forgo care nearly one year into the pandemic. We analyze trends in total hospital admissions and then separately analyze non-COVID-19 admissions both overall and by patient region, age, and sex. We calculate actual admissions as a share of total predicted admissions in 2020 based on trends from past years. Key findings include:

  • Total hospital admissions dropped to 69.2% of predicted admissions during the week ending April 4, 2020—the lowest point in the year—before rising again and staying at or above 90% since June 2020. As of the week ending December 5, 2020, total admissions were at 94.2% of what was predicted.
  • The decrease in hospital admissions from March 8 to December 5, 2020 represent 8.5% of the total expected admissions for all of 2020.
  • In November 2020, as COVID-19 cases surged, non-COVID-19 hospitalizations started to decline again and were about 80% of predicted hospitalizations by the end of the month. This suggests that people may once again be delaying or forgoing care due to the pandemic, in some cases likely due to hospital capacity constraints.
  • Based on our data through the beginning of December, the more recent decline in non-COVID-19 admissions has been steepest in the Midwest and West. In both of those regions, non-COVID-19 admissions were at roughly 76% of predicted levels at the end of November, as COVID-19 cases were surging in many parts of those regions.

This new analysis is based on electronic medical record (EMR) data from Epic Health Research Network (EHRN) and includes all inpatient hospital admission volume from Dec 31, 2017 to December 5, 2020, involving patients who either were discharged or died as of January 13, 2021. Data are aggregated weekly and pooled from 34 health care organizations in the United States, representing 97 hospitals that span 26 states and cover 20 million patients. These states represent 73.0% of COVID-19 cases as of January 21, 2021 and also represent 76.7% of the U.S. population1. Predicted volume was calculated using historical data from Dec 31, 2017 to Jan 25, 20202. COVID-19 admissions were identified as admissions with either a documented COVID-19 diagnosis (U07.01) or other respiratory diagnosis involving a patient who either had tested positive or presumptive positive for COVID-19 or received a COVID-19 diagnosis within 14 days of the admission.

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