PPE costs declining since high point of COVID-19 pandemic

Oct. 14, 2021

Data from Premier show that over the course of the pandemic, hospitals nationwide spent more than $3 billion to source personal protective equipment (PPE) for worker and patient safety. However, since the high point of spending in the second quarter of 2020, PPE costs have steadily declined.

During a pre-pandemic baseline period (2Q-3Q 2019), hospitals typically spent a little over $7 per patient, per day on PPE, a figure that skyrocketed to $20.40 during the spring of 2020, driven by increased consumption, as well as off-contract buying and PPE bidding wars that occurred as health systems had to compete with federal and state governments and other providers to source limited supplies.

Since that point in time, pricing has fallen to $12.45 per patient, per day — or about half of what was paid during the height of the pandemic.

However, data also show that for some PPE categories, such as eye protection, surgical gowns and face masks, pricing is very near pre-pandemic levels, while demand remains strong.

While costs are on the decline, demand for and consumption of PPE remains strong given the delta variant caseload surges this summer and fall. For instance, providers are still using 1,300 percent more N95 respirators than they were at the pre-pandemic baseline. However, Premier members are better positioned than others in the market because of best-in-class contracting, sourcing innovations and technology-enabled purchased services solutions.

To conduct the analysis, Premier compared PPE spending trends across quarters beginning from September 2019 through September of 2021, leveraging a database representing 30% of U.S. hospitals across all geographic regions and hospital types. PPE items included in the analysis included eye protection, surgical gowns, N95 respirators, face masks, exam gloves and swabs. Total costs were calculated by measuring quantities used per patient, per day, multiplied by the percent change in pricing for that quarter.

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