HealthLeaders Media Finance - November 17, 2008 | Good Thing Hospitals Are Closing View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Good Thing Hospitals Are Closing

Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

That's right. It's a good thing some hospitals are closing. That might seem like a flippant, inappropriate, throwaway phrase, but I really mean it. Everything else is downsizing these days—except maybe the government bailout bill. That's what happens in a recession: We, as a country, retreat from our profligate ways and find new discipline that will serve us well when we come out of the economic malaise. [Read More]
  November 17, 2008

Editor's Picks
Expecting donations to fall, hospitals brace for bad news
Hospitals have increasingly begun to count on philanthropy to make up some of the shortcomings of the healthcare reimbursement system in recent years, but because of the severe economic problems the nation is facing, it seems as though such giving is inevitably going to decline in the near future. Perhaps hospitals will begin to focus more aggressively on transformative gifts that offer the donor a chance to reform the organization into a leaner, more efficient contributor to the community instead of the old model of soliciting donations for buildings with names on them. In any case, if past recessions are any harbinger of what to expect for the future, it could be a dim time for a long time for many hospitals' philanthropic efforts. [Read More]
Use of imaging technology skyrockets
We already knew that imaging is overused in healthcare today, but who knew how staggering the increase in these expensive tests had become before the journal Health Affairs' latest study. To be sure, expensive imaging has improved health outcomes for countless patients, but it's surprising to me that prices for these scans haven't come down appreciably. But even if scans had become effectively commoditized, perhaps we'd still be dealing with an unsustainability problem, given the astonishing rate of per capita scanning increases since 1985. As it is, we've got to figure out a way to incorporate evidence-based medicine into this sector. [Read More]
Obama's healthcare plan would be boon for hospitals
Moody's Investors Service is predicting that the good times for hospitals will likely continue under the Obama administration. I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, given that my column above notes that unprecedented numbers of hospitals face closure now and in coming years. But for a number of hospitals, a hefty percentage of which have 5% or greater annual operating margins, the good times are now and the best of times could be just down the road. Clearly, Obama has a good chance of getting his healthcare initiatives passed, especially with Congress controlled by the Democrats. That would undoubtedly be good for hospitals' financial well-being—especially if recent rumblings from Congressional leaders regarding mandated health insurance coverage along the lines of Massachusetts' plan actually have enough support. [Read More]
Happy Thanksgiving!
From all of us at HealthLeaders Media, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. HealthLeaders Media Finance will not publish next week, but will be back December 1.
Finance Forum
Increasing Early Patient Payments Starts with a Change in Mindset
Hospitals and physicians interested in collecting patient payments earlier in the patient care process ought to know two very important things before providing service: how much to charge and whom to charge. Guest columnist Jorge Wong says while this demand may be challenging, it is also a unique opportunity for providers to better communicate with patients and increase their point-of-service collections. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Tardy Medicare payments hurting docs in western states
Los Angeles Times - November 8, 2008
New rule pares outpatient Medicaid services
New York Times - November 7, 2008
Michigan hospital sale completed
Detroit Free Press - November 8, 2008
$79 million set aside to buy land for New Orleans VA hospital
New Orleans Times-Picayune - November 12, 2008
Minnesota hospital expansion on hold until economy improves
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - November 11, 2008
L.A. hospital looks for permission to resume expansion project
Los Angeles Times - November 12, 2008
Birmingham's St. Vincent's lays off 74
Birmingham News - November 12, 2008
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
What's Your Brand?
That's what your patients want to know. But hospitals are discovering the same old differentiators aren't good enough anymore. Is YOUR organization ready to deliver on its brand promise? [Read More]
Money Talk

Cabell-Huntington Hospital, Huntington, WV
Rating: Baa1
Outlook: Negative
Affected Debt: $134 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Outlook revised to negative based on several years of declining operating measures combined with increased leverage. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Costs of the Credit Deep Freeze: Al Stubblefield, CEO of the Baptist Health Care Corporation, discusses the freeze in the credit markets and how that's affecting hospitals' expansion and M&A plans for the coming year and beyond. [Listen Now]

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