U of M researchers launch U.S. COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project

As thousands of COVID-19 patients seek hospital care across the United States, two University of Minnesota research centers have launched an urgent project to better understand state-by-state hospitalization data. 

The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project currently reports data from 37 states and can be found at  z.umn.edu/COVIDtrackingproject. The site captures and tracks daily data on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations - as reported by states’ Departments of Health - along with each states’ hospital bed and intensive care unit capacity. The unique feature of the site is users’ ability to visualize and compare hospitalization activity between states.

"Whereas each state collects its own data, we wanted to make it easy to share and analyze data across states," said Pinar Karaca-Mandic, associate professor at the  Carlson School of Management  and academic director of the  Medical Industry Leadership Institute. "This wasn’t possible until we launched this project, and this is the first time that a comprehensive national view of the data is available."

The hospital utilization data is adjusted for each state’s population to allow for valid comparison. "The data can be used by public health officials for predictive analytics and hospital capacity planning to guide their decision-making," said Soumya Sen, associate professor at the Carlson School of Management and research director of the  Management Information Systems Research Center. 

Credible, real-time information is critical as the U.S. anticipates a surging demand for hospital beds, ICU capacity and ventilators. "Our public health system is fragmented and each state is navigating this crisis independently," said Archelle Georgiou, M.D., chief health officer at Starkey Hearing Technologies and an executive in residence at the Carlson School who is co-leading the project with Karaca-Mandic and Sen. "This project will help unite states with data."  

The project began seeking data on March 26, and - in less than two weeks - it already offers new and valuable insights as described in an article written by Karaca-Mandic, Georgiou, and Sen and  published in Health Affairs , a premier health policy journal. 

On the site, users can see hospitalizations categorized two ways:

  • cumulative, meaning total number of people admitted to the hospital since the state began tracking for COVID-19 patients; 
  • current, meaning the total number of COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals in a state.

As of April 3, the project has found:

  • in the 23 states reporting cumulative hospitalizations, the average hospitalization rate is 7.76 admissions per 100,000 adults, and 5.81 admissions per 100,000 people;
  • in the 13 states reporting current hospitalizations, the average hospitalization rate is 11.49 admissions per 100,000 adults;  
  • in Louisiana, rates are 4.3 times higher (49.51 per 100,000 adults) than average, with 12.3% of the state’s hospital beds currently occupied by patients with COVID-19;  
  • in Connecticut, rates are 2.9 times higher (33.25 per 100,000 adults) than average, with 13.19% of the state’s hospital beds currently occupied by patients with COVID-19.

"More analyses and insights would be possible with consistent data collection and reporting across all 50 states," said Karaca-Mandic. "Therefore, we urge all states’ Departments of Health to begin and/or continue providing consistent standardized public reporting on four key metrics: cumulative COVID-19 hospitalizations, cumulative COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, current COVID-19 patients hospitalized and current COVID-19 patients in the ICU."

As of April 5, 13 states and the District of Columbia are not providing hospitalization data. These include: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

About the Medical Industry Leadership Institute
The Carlson School of Management and its Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) are recognized leaders in business education and research. Established in 2005, MILI’s mission is to shape the future of the medical industry and drive innovation through cutting-edge leadership education, research, and market development. If your passion comes in making a change in the world through the life-saving and life-enhancing opportunities afforded by the medical industry, MILI is waiting to embrace your drive and propel you and society to the next level. Learn more on the  MILI website.

About the Management Information Systems Research Center
The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management has been at the forefront of management information systems (MIS) for more than 50 years. Founded in 1968, the Management Information Systems Research Center (MISRC) has been an important part of the university’s contribution to the field, and is one of the reasons why the school is often called a "birthplace of MIS." Today, the MISRC and the Information & Decision Sciences department continue this tradition of scholarship and research. This is made possible with the support of industry partners that collaborate on important research, sponsor learning events, fund student scholarships, and offer valuable perspectives to inform various initiatives. Learn more on the  MISRC website.

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