Large Hospitals Shrink As Medical Tech Leads To More Outpatient, Specialty Care Clinics
As technology advances, the speed and quality of medical treatment has improved with it, but the need for large hospitals has declined.
Medical facilities are becoming smaller and more specialized to help minimize costs for both patients and hospitals. Outpatient clinics are becoming an increasingly popular option for care. The facilities, which include same-day surgery centers and microhospitals (which have only a handful of beds for overnight stays), are popping up all over the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In LaPlace, Louisiana, River Parishes Hospital has been converted from an emergency care facility to an inpatient psychiatric building. The hospital’s emergency care service has been moved off-sight to a smaller medical complex that has lab and radiology technology in-house, in addition to 13 beds for overnight stays.
In New York, Mount Sinai Health System's Beth Israel hospital now offers a network of specialty services at different sites, including urgent care, outpatient-surgery and behavioral services. Mount Sinai has taken this approach with a number of its facilities and is focused on converting many of its hospitals to specialty care buildings that can still offer emergency services when needed, according to the WSJ.
In addition to improved technology, part of the reason for this shift is the fact that the U.S. is home to more hospital beds than needed. A report by Medpac found that in 2015, hospitals had an average occupancy rate of around 62%, and in many cases, patients were potentially putting themselves at risk of infection by staying in the hospital longer than necessary. One in 25 American patients are coping with an infection that was picked up at a hospital.
In microhospitals, approximately 92% of patients are able to be treated and sent home in under two hours, limiting both risk of infection and medical costs, the WSJ reports.