The Norman Transcript


September 29, 2012

Outpatient visits on rise at local hospitals



That means hospital accommodations must change. Modern facilities have comfortable waiting areas and other amenities to deal with the outpatient trend.

Currently, the surgical waiting area at Norman Regional Hospital is being remodeled to better accommodate families during outpatient surgeries.

Nationally, outpatient surgery visits accounted for nearly half of all surgery visits in 1996 but almost two thirds of all surgery visits in 2006, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Members of the leadership team at the Norman Regional Health System are aware that this trend continues upward.

In fact, while the increases in outpatient visits and surgical cases were up during August, both areas ran below the numbers predicted for this year’s health system budget.

Hospitals continue to struggle to balance the emergeing trends in healthcare with increasingly limited reimbursement from third party payers such as insurance and Medicare.

The Norman Health System’s August net revenue of $26.8 million was $2.3 million, 7.9 percent below budget predictions, according to Chief Financial Officer Ken Hopkins.

“For the month of August, operating performance declined due primarily to a significant increase in average length of stay,” Hopkins said. “This increased average length of stay resulted in net revenue being $2.3 million below budget. Total expenses were also below budget, but not enough to offset the variance in net revenue.”

Length of stay is one of the critical factors hospitals try to manage.

“Medicare pays us a flat fee, regardless of how long a patient stays,” Terrell said. “That’s why length of stay is so important.”

Quality of care has to dictate over quantity, and that can mean financial losses for hospitals when patients stay longer than the standard flat rate allows.

While cases are managed to get patients out in an appropriate length of time, some patients require longer care.

In addition, there are penalties if a person must be readmitted within 30 days.

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