Hospital beds are staying empty longer, but hospital profits are rising slightly, according to MODERN HEALTHCARE's index of leading economic indicators.
The index, prepared by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, provides a quarterly snapshot of how hospitals are faring.
The latest index shows revenues and profits were up for hospitals whose fiscal years ended between Jan. 1 and June 30, 1994. The figures are based on information from 1,485 hospitals and compare financial indicators with the same hospitals' performance in 1993.
The data reveal that occupancy continues to decline, but it isn't harming profits. Hospitals reported an average acute-care occupancy rate of 46.3% in fiscal 1994, compared with 47.2% the previous year.
In addition, length of stay continued to drop-declining to 4.5 days in 1994 from 4.7 days in the previous year.
As expected, hospitals continue to generate more outpatient revenues. Revenues from outpatient sources rose to 35% in 1994, compared with 33% in 1993, HCIA said.
For this group of hospitals, profits rose slightly in fiscal 1994. The median total profit margin was 4.5%, compared with 4.3% in 1993; the median operating profit margin was 3.4% vs. 1993's 3.1%, HCIA reported.