Minneapolis Shriners Hospital for Children to end inpatient care amid declining admission rates

hospital building with a sign that says outpatient
Outpatient care is an increasingly important focus area for hospitals. (Getty/Mark Winfrey)

Shriners Hospital for Children in Minneapolis is developing plans to end its inpatient care services, hospital executives said.

Roger Robinson, chairman of the hospital's board of governors, said the hospital will switch its focus to outpatient care, the StarTribune reported. The plans are not close to being finalized, a spokeswoman told the newspaper. Shriners provides specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions.

"We are not closing the Twin Cities hospital," Robinson said. "The only change is for inpatient procedures, in which case we will shift them to other partnering facilities, just as we are currently doing in some cases." 

Robinson said that telemedicine and strategic affiliations will drive engagement with patients going forward.

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The Minneapolis Shiners' hospital was at risk for closure when the system considered downsizing from 22 to 14 facilities, according to the article. Its inpatient admission rates have declined significantly, by 65% between 2013 and 2016, a trend driven in part by innovations in orthopedic care. Just 90 patients were admitted to the hospital in 2016.

At the same time, outpatient visits increased significantly, with 6,000 registrations and 390 same-day surgeries that year. 

Hospitals across the country have turned their focus to outpatient care to continue revenue growth. The growth in alternative sites of care, such as ambulatory care centers, and the industry's transition to value-based care have made it an imperative for hospitals to look beyond inpatient care.

RELATED: Outpatient clinics take up residence in shopping malls 

The push for a change in focus has led some hospitals and health systems to acquire physician practices or clinics instead of the traditional horizontal union with their peers. Tenet Healthcare, for example, has looked to reshuffle its focus and grow its outpatient care offerings amid ongoing financial woes.

Some competitors looking to enter the healthcare market could disrupt this trend, however. For example, if Walmart and Humana do merge, as is rumored, the combined entity could siphon patients from hospital-run outpatient clinics

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