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Tufts improves finances in third quarter by managing expenses


By Beth Kutscher
Posted: July 21, 2014 - 3:15 pm ET
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Tufts Medical Center improved its financial performance in the third quarter of its fiscal year thanks to higher outpatient volume and tightly managing its expenses, the Boston-based hospital reported.

Tufts registered a $16.9 million (PDF) surplus on revenue of $177.3 million for the quarter ended June 30, an improvement from the $1.8 million surplus on $164.1 million in revenue for the same period last fiscal year, the hospital reported in an earnings statement released Friday. Higher operating income and higher investment income contributed to those results.

Fitch Ratings last week affirmed a BBB rating with a stable outlook on two series of Tufts bonds.

The 284-bed medical center still has a negative operating margin for the first nine months of its fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But most of its challenges—including weak patient volume and several one-time expenses—came in the first quarter of the fiscal year, Fitch said in its ratings report.

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At the same time, Tufts' expenses have increased just 1.1% year-over-year in the nine-month period and volumes, at least on the outpatient side, improved in early 2014. Tufts is working with Huron Consulting Group to further manage its expenses. Benefits of that collaboration should be seen in the fourth quarter and in fiscal 2015, Fitch said.

Admissions in the third quarter declined 11.3% year-over-year but outpatient visits increased 3.7%. Emergency room visits increased 4.6%.

Tufts belongs to a coalition of Massachusetts health systems and physician groups that is protesting the growing market power of local competitor Partners HealthCare. After Partners, the state's largest healthcare provider, received approval to acquire two more hospital groups, the coalition appealed to the attorney general for a greater say in its acquisitions.

Tufts in April struck its own deal to merge with 300-bed Lowell (Mass.) General Hospital. That same month, the medical center appointed interim CEO Dr. Michael Wagner as its permanent head after the departure of Eric Beyer last September.

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher


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