Population Health Strategies to Support Hospital and Intensive Care Unit Resiliency during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Italian Experience

Gabriele Romani, Francesca Dal Mas, Maurizio Massaro, Lorenzo Cobianchi, Mirko Modenese, Amelia Barcellini, Walter Ricciardi, Paul Barach, Rossella Lucà, Maria Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Italy was one of the countries most affected by the number of people infected and dead during the first COVID-19 wave. The authors describe the rapid rollout of a population health clinical and organizational response in preparedness and capabilities to support the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Italian province of Modena. The authors review the processes, the challenges faced, and describe how excess demand for hospital services was successfully mitigated and thus overwhelming the healthcare services avoided the collapse of the local health care system. An analysis of bed occupancy in the region predicted during the first weeks of the epidemic. The SEIR model estimated the number of infected people under different containment measures. Community resources were mobilized to reduce provincial hospitals' burden of care. A population health approach, based on a radical reorganization of the workflow and emergency patient management, was implemented. The bed saturation of the Modena Healthcare Agency was measured by an ad hoc, newly implemented intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy and COVID-19 centralized governance dashboard. ICU bed occupancy increased by 114%, avoiding saturation of the Modena Healthcare Agency system. The Emilia-Romagna region achieved a higher rate of ICU bed availability at 2.15 ICU beds per 10,000 inhabitants as compared with community 1 ICU bed availability prior to the pandemic. Rapid and radical local reorganization of regional efforts helped inform the successful development and implementation of strategic choices within the hospital and the community to prevent the saturation of key facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalPopulation Health Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • community engagement
  • COVID-19
  • epidemic
  • health care management
  • intensive care units
  • public health strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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