Jan 10, 2024 - Health

Hospital fortunes improved heading into holidays

Illustration of a hospital with a dollar sign

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Hospitals continued to shake off the pandemic's long-term financial effects as the holidays approached, with key metrics like inpatient and outpatient revenue rising year-over-year, the latest Kaufman Hall report finds.

The big picture: The severity of illness at more than 1,300 facilities in Kaufman's analysis returned to more normal levels in November, with the average length of patient stay down 6% year-over-year.

  • Margins, or the percentage of revenue kept as profit, kept trending positive and facilities were able to reduce their reliance on costly contract labor where possible.

Yes, but: The numbers don't reflect the surge of seasonal respiratory illness that has since swamped many medical systems and taxed resources.

By the numbers: Inpatient and outpatient revenue increased year-over-year by 5% and 9%, respectively.

  • Bad debt and charity care measured as a percentage of gross revenue was down 4%.
  • Labor expense per adjusted patient discharge also was down 4% year-over-year, while drug spending per discharge was up 4%.

What we're watching: Some hospitals could seize the moment and launch expansions or embark on other growth strategies. But Kaufman Hall noted there's still a wide gap between the industry's high and low performers.

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