Lingering Symptoms, Absenteeism Among COVID-19 Patients After Hospitalization

Article | September 2020

Lingering Symptoms, Absenteeism Among COVID-19 Patients After Hospitalization

A new Cigna study found that more than half of patients had lingering effects from COVID-19 up to two months later

Recovery from COVID-19 isn’t the same for all patients, and research continues to show the virus can have a long-term impact for many. A new study interviewing Cigna medical plan customers found that more than half of those patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had lingering symptoms up to two months later. Among those with lingering symptoms, one in seven had not yet returned to work, with fatigue and shortness of breath among the most common challenges.   

“COVID-19 is a novel virus we are only beginning to understand. By leveraging our COVID-19 predictive analytics we are able look ahead and guide clients and customers to better health outcomes,” said Saif Rathore, MD PhD, Cigna Head of Data and Analytics Innovation. 

Cigna nurse managers conducted in-depth interviews with 172 customers hospitalized for COVID-19 and identified multiple, lingering complications. Common challenges included fatigue, shortness of breath, and persistent loss of taste and smell. In addition, COVID-19 patients experienced less common side effects, among them hair loss, neuropathy, and balance and coordination issues. 

Cigna Medical is leveraging COVID-19 analytics to help employers anticipate and support workforce challenges, such as keeping employees safe, managing absenteeism and providing care navigation and emotional support. This includes Cigna Healthy Ways to WorkSM, a suite of solutions to help employers move forward by addressing the unique challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These insights are also being used to enhance Cigna's case management interactions for those recovering from COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 is not simply a serious respiratory virus and this study emphasizes the material change in health experienced by those who are hospitalized,” said Dr. Rathore. “We are committed to continue understanding how COVID-19 impacts our customers after the initial infection has run its course.”

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