For over two years, providers have experienced extreme volatility in demand caused by periods of Covid-19 surges, elective surgery postponements, patient deferments of care, and supply and staff shortages. In our last volume update, we saw that volumes in 2021 improved dramatically compared to 2020, but there was still underperformance compared to pre-pandemic baselines for most volume categories. Now halfway into 2022, have volumes fully returned? We asked 50 strategic planners at provider organizations to find out.
Here are the takeaways:
1. Most hospitals and health systems (72%) have exceeded pre-pandemic volume baselines organization-wide, but there are notable differences across respondent sub-groups.
Consistent with our prior 2021 survey, large health systems reported a stronger recovery compared to smaller health systems with 1-5 hospitals. Nearly every respondent who recovered FTE count (compared to pre-pandemic levels) also recovered volume.
2. Ambulatory surgery and physician office visit volumes have rebounded strongly, but hospital-based volumes remain suppressed.
Across all respondents, 86% report that physician and ambulatory surgery volumes have already exceeded pre-pandemic baselines. A similar degree of recovery was seen across organization types—even for those with a negative change in operating margin compared to pre-pandemic.
The same degree of recovery was not seen for inpatient surgery volume, which is still lagging for 48% of total respondents and 37% of respondents with financial challenges.
3. Most respondents report modest changes to volume—except for ambulatory surgery.
The majority of respondents report volume is within 5% of pre-pandemic baselines organization-wide, and for under-performing categories such as inpatient surgery and the ED. In comparison, 52% of respondents report ambulatory surgery growth of 6% or more compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Download the one-pager for a PDF of our latest volumes data. Then, join our webinar on June 15th for further analysis and commentary on volumes and other topics covered in our 2022 survey, including strategic planning, growth, and capital spending priorities.