HAP Blog

AHA Report: Delayed Health Care Poses New Challenges for Hospitals

August 16, 2022

U.S. patients are feeling the effects of delayed care during the pandemic, requiring more complex care and more time in the hospital to recover.

A new report from the American Hospital Association (AHA) evaluates how patient acuity has changed during the pandemic and the toll of delayed care on the health care system. Released this week, the AHA report notes how missed routine screenings and scheduled procedures have led to patients requiring higher levels of care.

“The confluence of these factors has contributed to patients experiencing more severe disease, in many cases requiring longer hospitalizations and more intensive treatments,” the report said.

Among the highlights from the report:

  • Higher acuity, higher needs:  The rise in patient acuity has contributed to growing labor challenges and the cost of care, especially related to drug expenses and medical supplies
  • Delayed care:  In a survey, more than half of clinicians reported an increase in negative health burdens due to delayed or inaccessible care
  • A recurring trend:  Between 2019 and 2021, overall patient acuity (average length of stay) was up nearly 10 percent
  • Fewer screenings:  One recent study evaluated a three-month stretch during 2021, and found significant decreases in screening for colorectal cancer (-80.6%), cervical cancer (-69%), and breast cancer (-55.3%)
  • Quotable:  “The data are clear—patient acuity in hospitals has risen significantly since the start of the pandemic, presenting hospitals with a unique set of challenges that demands immediate attention and additional support from Congress,” the report said

HAP continues to advocate for resources to ensure hospitals have the support they need to deliver outstanding care in their communities.

Additionally, HAP encourages everyone to stay up to date on their health care, including their scheduled procedures, screenings, vaccinations, and routine visits. Routine testing and exams and other preventive health care can prevent more serious health issues in the future.

The report is available to review online.

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