One place where inpatient volumes aren't going down: Children's hospitals.

Such hospitals are 'less sensitive' to declining admissions, experts say

Bucking the trend of declining admissions reported at most U.S. hospitals in recent years, inpatient admissions and staffed beds at children's hospitals increased slightly in 2013, according to new data from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Why is UPMC cutting beds? Blame the outpatient shift

Specifically, the data show that from 2012 to 2013:

  • Staffed-bed counts at children's hospitals increased by 0.6%, reaching 13,496.; and
  • Admissions increased by 0.3%.

Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio was the fastest-growing hospital in the data set. Its bed count jumped 11.3% from 2012 to 2013, reaching a total 414, while admissions increased by 0.6%.

Industry experts expect the outlook for children's hospitals to remain positive, as the U.S. Census Bureau predicts the number of children in the U.S to increase by 2.6% from 74.3 million in 2014 to 76.2 million in 2020.

For-profit hospitals are poised for a good year, but not-for-profits aren't. Why?

Steve Weylandt, managing director at consulting firm BDC Advisors, says the children's population "is less sensitive" to decreasing admissions. According to Modern Healthcare, there are typically few alternatives to hospitalization for children with serious health conditions because outpatient treatment usually is not an option (Sandler, Modern Healthcare, 2/21 [subscription required]).

The takeaway: Data suggest that children's hospitals are somewhat protected from the national hospital trend of declining inpatient admissions. Use our Inpatient Market Estimator for an idea of what expect at your facility.

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