5 statistics to know about hospital admission rates

After rising for decades, inpatient volumes are slowly declining nationwide.

Hospitals are feeling the pressure to reduce readmissions and improve patient outcomes, facing increasing penalties for excessive readmissions through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. More are performing outpatient services that have not always been available, and patients recover at home more often than they did decades ago.

Here are five statistics to know from the American Hospital Association's annual hospital statistics report from 2015.

1. Hospital admissions have increased 125.9 percent since 1946. 15.6 million people were admitted to hospitals nationwide in 1946, and 35.4 million were admitted in 2013.

2. Admissions peaked in 1981. That year, approximately 39.2 million people were admitted to AHA member hospitals in the U.S. There were also more than 1,000 more hospitals in the country that year than there are today, with 6,933 in 1981 as compared to 5,686 in 2013.

3. However, hospital admissions have fallen over the last decade. In 2003, 36.6 million people were admitted. That number had fallen 3.37 percent to 35.4 million people by 2013.

4. Admissions have been steadily falling since 2008. In 2008, 37.5 million people were admitted to hospitals. Admissions decreased marginally to 37.4 in 2009 but fell significantly to 35.4 million in 2013, possibly due to impending penalties for readmissions levied against hospitals as part of the PPACA. The act was proposed in 2009 and the penalties are now in their third year.

5. The average daily patient census is nearly half what it was in 1946. The average daily census in 2013 was 592,000 patients. In 1946, it was 1,142,000, a 92.9 percent decrease. This may be partially attributable to the shortened length of stay — the average length of stay in a hospital in 2013 was 4.8 days, significantly shorter than in the past, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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