Hospitals saw fewer admissions, more outpatients in 2013

U.S. hospitals continued to see downward trends in hospital utilization in 2013, and many of them adopted new models of coordinated care that might accommodate the flow of patients to outpatient-care settings.  The American Hospital Association's latest annual statistical compilation again shows fewer admissions and births and higher expenses but also more outpatient visits in 2013.  Chief among these trends is the decline in hospital admissions, which have been falling since 2009. This trend carried into 2013 with a 2% decline to about 35.4 million compared with almost 36.2 million admissions reported in 2012. (Those trends also continued into the third quarter of 2014, according to calculations by Modern Healthcare.)

Outpatient visits, however, increased 1.2% to more than 787 million in 2013.  More hospitals, meanwhile, are establishing medical home programs in which care teams coordinate patient care using a comprehensive, whole-person orientation. In 2013, 20.4% of hospitals had a medical home program compared with 14.5% in 2011.

“Although the patient-centered medical home model is all about keeping patients out of the hospital and away from emergency departments, hospitals are an integral part of this movement,” Kevin Kenward, research director for the AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust, wrote in the report's introduction. “Among their business strategies are converting their own hospital-owned practices into medical homes, acquiring practices already certified as medical homes and requiring practices being considered for purchase to convert.”

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