Monday 12 December 2011

3 ways to check the financial situation of a hospital

Financial health of the hospital
Today's question is how can we assess the health of the hospital or institution that we are going to apply to? After all no one wants to get aboard a sinking ship unless your expertise is reviving fiscally solvent hospitals. Knowing how strong the program is financially is important because you need to know what you will be up against when you join. 

If a program is going to close because of financial troubles, then you will end up with a partial residency and face the stress of transferring to another institution. Also, Programs and hospitals that are not doing well financially tend to buck the ACGME rules for residents regarding duty hours, patient load and work load. After all the work to pay ratio for residents is abysmal. 

Back to the question - How to know about financial situation of a program or a hospital?

there are some very good resources available online which will help you dig a little deeper.

1. Google news - you can use the keyword search on the news website to look for articles on financial health in both current and archived items. for example you can use the search terms like "name of the hospital" + financial trouble or bankruptcy and see if you get any hits. An example of this method is if you use "maxis health hospital in financial trouble" in google news, you will come across several articles that note the closure of Marian hospital in the scranton, PA area. Similar searches can be carried out with other hospitals.

2. AHRQ (Agency for health care research and quality)
This is a favorite of mine, because there is so much information packed in its pages including data regarding medicare utilization of resources by the hospitals, Medical expenditure panel survey (MEPS), health care cost and utilization project data (HCUP) and a lot more. In fact the site is so extensive that it may become a little daunting for the novice and chances are you will get lost if you are not specific in your search. Nonetheless, it is an excellent site for looking up health policy, cost and care utilization by the hospitals.

3. American Hospital directory (AHD)
According to the website - The American Hospital Directory® provides data and statistics about more than 6,000 hospitals nationwide.® hospital information includes both public and private sources such as Medicare claims data, hospital cost reports, and commercial licensors.  I found this website to be extremely useful, you can look up the financial health of any hospital that is listed and along with details like reimbursements, other financial health and patient statistics. Remember, if the total revenue number is in red means the hospital running a loss and if the revenue number is in black then it means profit. Not all reds are bad, because most of 'not for profit' hospitals may run in red but they are covered by state and federal $$.

A basic understanding of hospital finance is crucial for residency applicants, interns and residents. This video will make it easy to understand the hospital revenue and expenses.

  If you like this article, you may also be interested in
Check list for IMGs prior to residency interview, and dont forget to follow me on facebook or on twitter!

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