Observational study of organisational responses of 17 US hospitals over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

BMJ Open. 2023 May 8;13(5):e067986. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-067986.


Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic has required significant modifications of hospital care. The objective of this study was to examine the operational approaches taken by US hospitals over time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design, setting and participants: This was a prospective observational study of 17 geographically diverse US hospitals from February 2020 to February 2021.

Outcomes and analysis: We identified 42 potential pandemic-related strategies and obtained week-to-week data about their use. We calculated descriptive statistics for use of each strategy and plotted percent uptake and weeks used. We assessed the relationship between strategy use and hospital type, geographic region and phase of the pandemic using generalised estimating equations (GEEs), adjusting for weekly county case counts.

Results: We found heterogeneity in strategy uptake over time, some of which was associated with geographic region and phase of pandemic. We identified a body of strategies that were both commonly used and sustained over time, for example, limiting staff in COVID-19 rooms and increasing telehealth capacity, as well as those that were rarely used and/or not sustained, for example, increasing hospital bed capacity.

Conclusions: Hospital strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic varied in resource intensity, uptake and duration of use. Such information may be valuable to health systems during the ongoing pandemic and future ones.

Keywords: COVID-19; HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT; Organisation of health services; PUBLIC HEALTH; Protocols & guidelines.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*