Ascension's operating income climbs 41%: 5 things to know

St. Louis-based Ascension reported an operating margin of 3.8 percent for the nine months ended March 31, compared to an operating margin of 2.8 percent for the same period a year earlier, according to unaudited financial documents.

Here are five things to know about Ascension's most recent financial results.

1. The roughly 140-hospital system partially attributed its operating results to a year-over-year increase in net patient service revenue of $990 million. Ascension said the increase represents an uptick in inpatient and outpatient volumes from its acquisition of Glendale, Wis.-based Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Southeast Wisconsin facilities in March 2016.

2. The health system saw its operating income jump 40.8 percent year-over-year from $456 million to $642 million for the nine-month period. In addition, Ascension's operating revenue increased 6.2 percent to $17.1 billion in the nine-month period, up from $16.1 billion in the same period the year prior.

3. Ascension's operating expenses increased 1.1 percent year-over-year to $163.2 million in the period due to increased revenue cycle management fees as the system transitions to a new system.

4. The system recorded net income of $1.5 billion in the nine months ended March 31, compared to a $67 million loss recorded in the same period a year prior.

5. The strong results come as Ascension is "repositioning its portfolio of care delivery sites" with greater investments in outpatient assets. The system also said operating results reflect "operational improvement initiatives and focus on consolidation, standardization, joint venture creation and synergistic mergers of new entities and divestitures of entities that are no longer congruent with the system's strategic goals." 

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