Use of linked patient data to assess the effect of Long-COVID on system-wide healthcare utilisation

Ben J. Murch, Sarah E. Hollier, Charlie Kenward, Richard M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Within the relatively early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been an awareness of the potential longer-term effects of infection (so called Long-COVID) but little was known of the ongoing demands such patients may place on healthcare services. Objective: To investigate whether COVID-19 illness is associated with increased post-acute healthcare utilisation. Method: Using linked data from primary care, secondary care, mental health and community services, activity volumes were compared across the 3 months preceding and proceeding COVID-19 diagnoses for 7,791 individuals, with a distinction made between whether or not patients were hospitalised for treatment. Differences were assessed against those of a control group containing individuals who had not received a COVID-19 diagnosis. All data were sourced from the authors’ healthcare system in South West England. Results: For hospitalised COVID-19 cases, a statistically significant increase in non-elective admissions was identified for males and females <65 years. For non-hospitalised cases, statistically significant increases were identified in GP Doctor and Nurse attendances and GP prescriptions (males and females, all ages); Emergency Department attendances (females <65 years); Mental Health contacts (males and females ≥65 years); and Outpatient consultations (males ≥65 years). Conclusion: There is evidence of an association between positive COVID-19 diagnosis and increased post-acute activity within particular healthcare settings. Linked patient-level data provides information that can be useful to understand ongoing healthcare needs resulting from Long-COVID, and support the configuration of Long-COVID pathways of care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Information Management Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • communicable diseases
  • COVID-19
  • data linkage
  • delivery of healthcare
  • health information management
  • health services needs and demand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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