Hospitals have rebounded from the Great Recession and are showing stronger operating margins than in years past, even as more care shifts from inpatient to outpatient, according to the new American Hospital Association's annual Hospital Statistics guide.
Those findings, based on fiscal 2012 data, show that acute-care hospitals are delivering more care in ED and outpatient settings as the number of inpatient days, inpatient surgeries and births continues to decline. At the same time, inpatient beds per capita have remained steady at 2.6 per 1,000 people—unchanged since 2009—and the average length of stay has remained consistent at 5.4 days.
The trends are accelerating. In 2012, emergency department visits increased 2.9% over the previous year, compared with 1.7% between 2011 and 2010. Outpatient visits also increased nearly 2.9% to almost 675 million, compared with year-over-year growth of only 0.7% between 2010 and 2011.