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2016: The Year of Microhospitals and Specialty Service Lines
In 2016, hospitals began to spin off specialty lines designed to serve certain niches of patients, with the aim of cutting the overhead expenses of hospital operators, according to an article on the FierceHealthcare website. The new report looks at key service lines that emerged or have grown during the past year, including microhospitals and freestanding emergency rooms (ERs).
Microhospitals have only a few beds and are usually built in an urban or suburban area, according to the article. Such facilities have been built or are under construction in Indianapolis, Nevada, Kansas City, Texas, Colorado, and Arizona. Some observers see them as an alternative to urgent care. Microhospitals may also provide a way to rescue larger, financially troubled facilities.
There are approximately 500 freestanding ERs in the United States, but some industry observers believe that number could quadruple in the coming years, the article observes. These facilities are attractive for several reasons: 1) they provide services similar to those offered by full-sized hospitals but at a lower cost; 2) they are often exempt from state certificate-of-need laws; 3) they can alleviate overcrowding at primary hospitals; and 4) they can deliver care more efficiently.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers (UCCs) can reduce unnecessary health costs by diverting patients away from ERs when they require only basic outpatient care, the article suggests. They also offer an attractive option to patients who seek alternatives to visiting ERs in order to reduce their out-of-pocket costs. In addition, some UCCs have focused on specific specialty areas. Some clinics in Orlando, Florida, for example, offer orthopedic and cardiology care. There are approximately 7,000 UCCs in the U.S., and observers expect that number to grow 4% to 6% each year.
Bedless hospitals provide many of the same services as regular hospitals, but patients do not stay overnight. Such facilities are closer in line with demands for more care delivered on an outpatient basis, according to the article. Moreover, they may be a boon for rural hospitals, which are currently facing financial hard times.
Source: FierceHealthcare; December 30, 2016.