According to a report released today, the rate rose nearly a full percentage point over the first-quarter 2002 rate of 5.4%, the company says in a release.
"Our findings seem to indicate a possible trend toward improved efficiency in U.S. hospitals," says Vic Breed, senior vice president and general manager of Solucient's operational improvement unit, in the release.
"However, as hospitals face higher costs and increased pressures on revenues, they must continue finding ways to cut costs, while maintaining high quality of care if they are to stay at these levels."
The report also finds that hospitals with fewer than 150 beds had higher operating margins--calculated as the difference between total operating revenues and total operating expenses divided by total revenue--than larger facilities.
Also, it finds that the average median daily census--the number of occupied beds in a hospital at midnight--increased 25% over 1997 levels.