According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, treating a single COVID-19 patient in a US hospital could cost up to $20,000. (1) These costs could exceed $88,000 per patient if ICU treatment and ventilation therapy are needed. The cost of treatment for a major metropolitan level one trauma centre with 70+ critical care beds could exceed $6.7 million if all beds are 100% filled with COVID-19 vented patients. Few, if any, hospitals can afford such expenses.
The pandemic wreaked havoc on hospitals, complicating and aggregating all three of their most expensive fields of operation: staff, equipment, and bad debt. COVID-19 rattled most hospitals' operational cost control systems, and their Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) partners got little to no support, leaving even the best-performing hospitals struggling to maintain their pre-COVID supply chain operating margins.
Less productive hospitals, which were already running on razor-thin margins before the outbreak, are taking the brunt of the damage. A rural facility in Kentucky, for example, expects to achieve 0.6 percent operating margins in a strong year. The hospital's operating margins were negative 25% after the first COVID wave. (3,4)
We do not claim to know what the healthcare industry will look like in a post-COVID world, but we do know that if healthcare systems continue to function with a "business as normal" mentality once we have weathered this storm, they will be setting themselves up for a challenging and resistance filled journey.