Growth in patient volumes and decreasing reliance on contract labor have helped systems’ finances to some extent. New pressures could emerge, however, as more services move to the outpatient sphere and to patients’ homes.
“Payers like it, patients like it and volumes will continue to move in this direction,” Wolf said.
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Even as hospital-at-home can expand access to services for patients, systems that rely heavily on inpatient care may not be prepared for the shift, he said.
“We still have all these big expensive facilities that break even based on volume,” he said. “Even if [some systems] are positioned for the change, they’re still at risk because of these facilities that need to be fully occupied to be financially sustainable.”
Wolf said hospitals in rural communities may be especially vulnerable to the effects.
“What do you do with that extra space?” he said.