Ascension sees greater shift toward outpatient care in Q1
- The nation's largest Catholic health system reported volume declines in key categories during its first quarter for FY19 on Monday. On a same-facility basis, volume declined for discharges, inpatient admissions, emergency room visits and inpatient surgeries. Ascension has said that's expected as it focuses more on outpatient care.
- On the other hand, outpatient volumes shot up by 10% compared to the prior-year period. Comparing patient volumes at the same facilities year-over-year, outpatient visits and outpatient surgeries both increased. Outpatient services now represent nearly 53% of the system's overall patient revenue, another illustration of the shift from inpatient to outpatient.
- The system's income from operations increased dramatically from $11.5 million during the prior-year period to $36.4 million for the most recent quarter ended Sept. 30.
Ascension, like many other health systems, is pivoting away from a landscape that is focused on its hospitals and inpatient admissions to one that is focused on keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital.
It's a bold move given Ascension's massive hospital footprint across the country. The system operates 151 hospitals in 22 states.
Earlier this year, the the company inked a new strategic direction with the blessing of its board and the change in direction has meant restructuring to shed $400 million from the organization, including hospital divestitures and layoffs.
Even though the results of the first quarter of 2019 are much rosier than those of 2018's first quarter, officials said the system will still be adversely affected by expected declines in volumes, increases in governmental payer mix and increased uncompensated care.
Other major health systems experienced weak volumes during their most recent quarters. Dallas-based Tenet Health, a for-profit chain, reported admissions on a same-facility basis fell 2% and the chain's outpatient totals were not much better, increasing slightly by 0.4%. "Our hospitals did not meet our expectations and we are focusing on specific areas to address those gaps," CEO Ronald Rittenmeyer said.
Franklin, Tennessee-based CHS experienced similar woes with declining volumes.