BAY AREA HOSPITALS: May Profit From Flu Outbreak
Bay Area hospitals "may see fatter profit margins ahead" due to the recent flu outbreak. The hospitals say their "patient counts are 20 to 30% above normal, thanks largely to a surge in influenza cases," the San Jose Business Journal reports. William Piche, CEO of Good Samaritan Hospital, called this flu strain "particularly virulent, ... laying low even people who have received flu shots." Candy Roney of O'Connor Hospital said, "Today we had 195 inpatients, and a year ago that would have been more like 140 to 155."
A Silver Lining?
The flood of patients "brings a corresponding boost in patient revenues." Mike Goodkind, a Stanford Hospital spokesman, said, "I think the officials, including the CEO, are not disappointed that we're (taking) care of more patients. Presumably, being busier is what a hospital's all about." The question, however, is exactly how much revenue the additional patients will bring in. "You can't simply translate volume into dollars; it's not Coca-Cola," Goodkind said. O'Connor's Roney said, "The bottom line is hard to tell. It could be months before we see reimbursement from all these additional patients. Depending on our insurance mix, it will take us a while to realize where we are revenue-wise" (Delevett, 2/2 issue).