Houston Methodist is in the midst of a massive COVID-19 surge, seeing 50% more patients than at the height of its previous surge in the spring and on track to reach more than double that peak.
"We're probably heading up to at least two to three times what our initial surge was," said Roberta Schwartz, Houston Methodist's executive vice president and chief innovation officer. "We are definitely surging."
Texas is one of more than half of states that are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases. The state's governor on Thursday issued an executive order suspending surgeries at hospitals in four counties in an effort to ensure there's capacity for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Hospitals are increasingly using predictive models to forecast regional COVID-19 surges and demand for healthcare services, said Gurpreet Singh, health services leader at consulting firm PwC. While many of the predictive models that hospitals used in early stages of the pandemic focused on COVID-19, they're now adjusting them to forecast demand for other services as they re-open for non-emergency care.
Singh estimated that, before the pandemic, about a quarter of hospitals used analytics for predicting demand. Now, he said he's seen it at least half of hospitals he's worked with recently.
Predictive analytics have helped Houston Methodist leadership better allocate resources across its eight hospitals as it prepares to care for even more COVID-19 patients.
By looking at its emergency department, admission volumes, and what proportion of those patients test positive for COVID-19, Houston Methodist has been able to identify which hospitals are in communities with a growing number of COVID-19 cases and forecast how high the next surge might be.
The forecasts stem from crunching numbers and creating dashboards on data visualization software, Schwartz said.
"I have a whole new set of COVID dashboards," she said. "Things that didn't exist six months ago."