Advocate Aurora Health appears to be gaining steam in the race to build up an arsenal of outpatient services to catch the patients no longer staying in its hospitals.
The not-for-profit health system, formed through an April 2018 merger, saw its home health visits jump 6% in 2018 compared with the prior year, according to its 2018 financial results. Outpatient visits rose 4.7% during that time, and physician visits rose 3%. Meanwhile, as is the story at so many health systems, discharges dropped nearly 1% year-over-year.
Advocate Aurora, which has dual headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill. and Milwaukee, provided about 754,000 home health visits, 9.3 million physician visits and 4.6 million outpatient visits last year.
The health system drew $12.2 billion in total revenue in 2018, up 3.5% from $11.7 billion in 2017. Expenses rose 4.2% during that time to $11.6 billion. The system presented some of its financial and utilization results on a pro forma basis, with separate results from Advocate and Aurora prior to the merger combined for comparison.
The system's operating income fell to $472.4 million in 2018—a 4.5% operating margin—from $554.7 million in 2017, a 5.2% margin.
Like many systems, Advocate Aurora suffered a steep investment loss last year, $267.3 million, compared with a gain of $772 million in 2017. That contributed to a $277 million non-operating loss, compared with a $731 million non-operating gain in 2017.
Excess of revenue over expenses attributable to the system fell significantly as well, from $1.2 billion in 2017 to $150.5 million in 2018.
Despite reports that Taiwanese tech company Foxconn plans to scale back what was originally touted as a $10 billion manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, Wis., Advocate Aurora is still plowing ahead with its plans to develop a medical campus there. The system wrote that it still expects to spend $250 million building a hospital, medical office building and ancillary services in Mount Pleasant, with construction expected to be completed in 2022.
Last summer, Advocate Aurora and Foxconn announced they were partnering to combine the health system's population health expertise with Foxconn's technology products. The goal is to collect enough data on Foxconn employees to take preventive action that improves health outcomes, a venture the companies ultimately hope to commercialize.
When that deal was announced, Foxconn was still holding to its goal of generating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin within the decade, which it has since walked back. A spokesman for the system said officials remained committed to their plans in southeast Wisconsin and to being "a strong community partner there."
Advocate Aurora, which has 25 acute-care hospitals in northern and central Illinois and eastern Wisconsin, said it spent nearly $75 million in 2018 implementing an electronic medical records system and on costs related to the merger.
The system had roughly 72,000 employees at the end of 2018, and fewer than 0.4% of them are represented in collective bargaining agreements.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct expected date when the Mount Pleasant facilites will be completed.