Factors such as population size, extent of insurance coverage and number of physicians can contribute to perceived hospital capacity shortages, and hospitals should consider options beyond simply expanding hospital capacity to address shortages, according to a study published in the Milbank Quarterly.
Researchers studied hospitals in Boston, Cleveland, Miami and Phoenix to observe the availability of hospital services and changes made to hospital systems to address emergency department diversions and other issues.
According to the authors, hospitals overall were slow to adjust to changes in the supply of hospital services and patient demand. The study notes that a number of factors influence the demand for hospital services, including:
- Medicare payments;
- Staff shortages;
- Changes in the health insurance market;
- Local physician practices; and
- Shifts in market demand over time.
The authors suggest that policymakers also examine how hospitals have adjusted to shifting patient demands over time and what factors have contributed to delayed hospital responses (Bazzoli et al., Milbank Quarterly, June 2006). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.