August 4

Posted in Announcements

New Research Illustrates the Distinct Roles of Post-Acute Care Settings During the Pandemic to Inform Policymaking Now and Going Forward


Lane Koenig PhD, President, KNG Health Consulting,
Carol Davis, PhD, MBA, Georgetown University, 

WASHINGTON, DC: A new analysis of the discharge destinations of Medicare patients leaving hospitals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on the role of post-acute care (PAC) providers supporting the health system response to COVID-19.  Health economists from KNG Health quantified key clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients compared to other patients in hospital last year. The differences persisted beyond the initial period of hospitalization.  Upon discharge, COVID-19 patients were half as likely to be discharged home, twice as likely to go to long-term acute-care hospitals (LTCHs), and 66% more likely to go to Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) than non-COVID-19 patients.

Health economist and lead author, Lane Koenig, President of KNG Health Consulting, described the impetus for the study. “The pandemic has highlighted some key gaps in the U.S. healthcare system.  Early on, many raised concerns as to whether we had the hospital capacity to provide adequate care to COVID-19 and other patients.  We wanted to examine the role of post-acute care in helping communities and hospitals respond to the COVID-19 emergency.” This latest study builds on KNG Health’s prior data-driven analyses on the impact of COVID-19 on hospitalizations, patient characteristics, and resource use during the first wave of the pandemic.  

The KNG Health team compared the frequency of PAC use and patient characteristics for Medicare beneficiaries by condition (COVID-19 versus non-COVID-19) and year (2019 versus 2020) to better understand how communities used post-acute providers to help respond to the nation’s public health emergency and whether these uses of PACs are consistent with historical patterns of care. The study analyzed Medicare transfers from general hospitals to post-acute hospitals (LTCHs or IRFs), skilled nursing facilities, hospice facilities, and home health.  “Our study demonstrated that each of the post-acute care settings played an important but different role in responding to the COVID-19 emergency. There are important questions about how patients fared given the shift in post-acute treatment settings. We believe that understanding these outcomes could help inform efforts to improve post-acute care in the future.”

The study was just published August 3 through the Health Care Financing Initiative at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. It is the latest report featured in HCFI’s growing digital collection, The Impact of COVID-19 on Post-Acute Patients, Providers, and Public Policy. Carol Davis, Assistant Research Professor at McCourt School of Public Policy serves as editor for the HCFI digital collection.  “This research by KNG Health quantifies what many providers were seeing on the frontlines in the early months of the pandemic– that the particular capabilities of various post-acute settings would be called on to contribute in markedly different ways during the pandemic, often departing from some traditional patterns of hospital and post-acute care use. We encourage providers and policymakers to use this and subsequent analyses demonstrating practical distinctions between PAC settings that have become more pronounced over the past several years.” HCFI continues its project to develop and curate a body of policy-focused research aggregating insights about PAC settings into a coordinated vision of system readiness for the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.

Find the full report at

KNG Health Consulting is a health economics and policy company with research expertise across all sectors of the health care industry.  

The Health Care Financing Initiative is one of several public policy research centers at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University.

#postacutecare, #COVID-19, #criticalcare, #healthcarepolicy, #PHE, #McCourtSchool