Philadelphia hospitals report topsy-turvy finances

Hospitals in the Philadelphia area are concerned by future financial projections, particularly a decline in admissions, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

An analysis by the newspaper of 14 area not-for-profit hospitals in the region found that facilities and systems examined in New Jersey had an aggregate 4.4 increase in net patient revenue for 2011, but a 2.5 percent decrease in patient admissions. In Pennsylvania, the aggregate revenue rose 5.7 percent, but admissions declined 1.4 percent.

The average total margin for hospitals statewide was 5.26 percent in 2010, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. 

The split between increased revenues and decreased admissions may be seen in hospitals operators such as South Jersey Healthcare, according to the Inquirer. Although it paid bonuses to more than 3,000 employees, CEO Chet Kaletkowski warned the largesse may be the last for a while.

Holy Redeemer Hospital just outside Philadelphia struggled the most among providers in the region, reporting both declines in patient revenue and admissions, particularly during the last months of 2011, according to the article. And another nearby hospital operator, Abington Health, reported revenue declines linked to increases in observation care cases, where hospitals are not paid at inpatient rates.

"We're talking millions and millions of dollars," Michael Walsh, Abington's CFO, told the paper. 

As FierceHealthFinance reported last month, another hospital in the region, Pittsburgh's West Penn Allegheny Health System, reported a loss of $55.9 million for the first half of a fiscal year.

The financial results, which include a loss of $34.1 million between September and December 2011, ws attributed primarily to lower patient volumes. Patient revenue fell 4.3 percent to $32.9 million between July 1 and Dec. 31. Admissions at the hospital declined nearly 10 percent, primarily because it closed its emergency room and moved other services to West Penn Hospital.

To learn more:
- read the Philadelphia Inquirer article
- see the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council 2010 report on acute care hospitals
- check out statistical data on Pennsylvania hospitals