Recession hits large hospitals hard

One fact that hasn't stood out in the reporting on hospital financial woes is that it's proving harder to be a larger hospital than a smaller one. While more than half of the hospitals surveyed in the U.S. reported negative total margins for the first quarter of 2009, the pain wasn't distributed evenly.

A striking 80 percent of hospitals reporting negative margins, actually, were among hospitals with 500 or more beds. The lowest rate, meanwhile, was among those with less than 100 beds.

In another sign of hard times for big hospitals, a recent HFMA survey reported larger facilities with more than 500 beds had the biggest problems, and were hit hardest by drops in non-operating revenue. Seventy-eight percent of hospitals participating in the survey reported drops of non-operating income, but those with more than 500 beds were hit hardest, with 79 percent saying that they'd had decreases of more than 20 percent.

One area in which rural hospitals actually had a worse time than the big boys was patient revenue. Patient revenue declined 43 percent, the research showed, but rural hospitals had a 60 percent declines, compared with 37 percent of larger urban facilities, according to the HFMA.

To learn more about this research:
- read this Health Leaders Media piece

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