Earnings at HCA Holdings rose modestly in the first quarter on increases in emergency room visits, outpatient surgeries and admissions.
HCA, the nation's largest hospital chain, posted income before taxes in the first quarter of $1.1 billion on revenue of $11.1 billion compared with income before taxes of $1.08 billion on revenue of $10.3 billion in the prior year quarter.
Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter also was flat at $2 billion compared with the same number a year ago.
Patient volume rose at HCA's 168 hospitals and 116 free-standing surgery centers.
Emergency room visits jumped 7.6%. Outpatient surgery cases increased 5.6% and admissions and revenue per admission rose about 2%.
HCA announced that it had changed the way it accounts for income taxes on equity award settlements. The paper change is expected to add 20 cents per diluted share to this year's performance.
As a result, HCA revised its guidance for annual adjusted earnings per share to a range of $6.20 per diluted share to $6.65, from $6 to $6.45.
In an earnings call Tuesday, HCA Chief Operating Officer Sam Hazen said new free-standing emergency departments opened in HCA markets are helping fuel growth in ER visits.
HCA has 56 free-standing emergency departments compared with 44 a year ago, Hazen said. That is expected to grow to a total of 70 over the next 12 to 18 months, he said. They are “an important part of our network,” Hazen said.