Alternative methods for hospital occupancy forecasting, essential information in hospital crisis planning, are necessary in a novel pandemic when traditional data sources such as disease testing are limited. Horng, et al. (2021) sought to determine whether mandatory daily employee symptom attestation data can be used as syndromic surveillance to estimate COVID-19 hospitalizations in the communities where employees live.
This cohort study was conducted from April 2, 2020, to Nov. 4, 2020, at a large academic hospital network of 10 hospitals accounting for a total of 2384 beds and 136 000 discharges in New England. The participants included 6841 employees who worked on-site at hospital 1 and lived in the 10 hospitals’ service areas. Daily employee self-reported symptoms were collected using an automated text messaging system from a single hospital.
Among 6,841 employees living within the 10 hospitals’ service areas, 5120 (74.8%) were female individuals and 3884 (56.8%) were White individuals; the mean (SD) age was 40.8 (13.6) years, and the mean (SD) time of service was 8.8 (10.4) years. The study model had a MAE of 6.9 patients with COVID-19 and a weighted MAPE of 1.5% for hospitalizations for the entire hospital network. The individual hospitals had an MAE that ranged from 0.9 to 4.5 patients (weighted MAPE ranged from 2.1% to 16.1%). For context, the mean network all-cause occupancy was 1286 during this period, so an error of 6.9 is only 0.5% of the network mean occupancy. Operationally, this level of error was negligible to the incident command center. At hospital 1, a doubling of the number of employees reporting symptoms (which corresponded to 4 additional employees reporting symptoms at the mean for hospital 1) was associated with a 5% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations at hospital 1 in 7 days (regression coefficient, 0.05; 95% CI, 0.02-0.07; P < .001).
This cohort study found that a real-time employee health attestation tool used at a single hospital could be used to estimate subsequent hospitalizations in seven days at hospitals throughout a larger hospital network in New England.
Reference: Horng S, et al. Secondary Use of COVID-19 Symptom Incidence Among Hospital Employees as an Example of Syndromic Surveillance of Hospital Admissions Within 7 Days. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(6):e2113782. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13782