The writing is on the wall: hospitals are increasingly losing patients to ambulatory and home care services. Healthcare is one sector which is never really out of favor, since it provides essential services. However, cost has become the overriding factor when patients decide how they would like to receive them.
Hospitals Face Tough Times
Over the last few years, the number of hospital admissions and the duration for which patients stay have undergone a decline. However, capacity has not shrunk to the extent demand has fallen. At the same time, employment at hospitals has continued to rise.
Meanwhile, policy changes and incentives provided by the market are encouraging migration to outpatient care. A preventive approach to diseases, especially those which are chronic in nature, mean fewer patients are visiting hospitals.
Additionally, advances in technology and new drug development mean that patients can readily get treatment away from hospitals. The economy has rebounded and the labor market situation has improved significantly. However, wage growth remains a cause for concern, which means that discretionary procedures and surgeries are being put off until better times arrive.