The average debt per hospital bed increased 35% during a five-year period as a result of higher operating expenses and decreases in investment returns and reimbursements, according to a study released today by Solucient.
The Evanston, Ill.-based healthcare information firm used Medicare cost report data from 1996 to 2000 representing nearly 6,000 acute-care and specialty hospitals.
The increase in debt could be attributed to an 11% boost in operating expenses among hospitals, decreases in investment returns and a greater reliance on credit, according to the findings. Higher operating expenses can cause lower hospital margins and may require hospitals to rely more on debt financing. During the five-year period, operating expenses per adjusted discharge increased 11%. Increases in drug spending and imaging technologies were behind the rise in operating expenses. -- by Patrick Reilly