Ballad Health reports strong first-quarter results as combined entity

Ballad Health, a health system formed by the merger of Kingsport, Tenn.-based Wellmont Health System and Johnson City, Tenn.-based Mountain States Health Alliance, said it saw revenue increase in its first operating quarter under a combined budget.

Seven things to know about the system's financials for the quarter ended Sept. 30:

1. The system reported a 2 percent increase in revenue and a 1.5 percent increase in expenses for the quarter, compared to the same period of the year prior.

2. This resulted in a 9.8 percent year-over-year increase in operating cash flow for the newly merged health system, from $45.3 million to $49.7 million.

3. A 34 percent reduction in the use of contract labor, improvements in productivity and focused supply cost management contributed to the financial results, Ballad Health said. 

4. The system reported spending $267.1 million on salaries, wages and benefits, an increase of $1.5 million from the same period of last year.

5. Alan Levine, chairman and CEO of Ballad Health, said: "Ballad Health is committed to contributing to the economic success of our region. Because we remained a locally operated system through our merger, we continue to put investment back into our communities through employment and through good-paying jobs. At the same time, we are focused on managing our labor costs, so this growth, and our margins, are sustainable and will support ongoing capital investment into our facilities as well as the investments we are committed to which will improve the health of our region."

6. Lower patient volume also contributed to Ballad Health's financials. Admissions in the quarter declined 4.3 percent. When adjusted for outpatient activity, admissions declined 0.7 percent. Ballad Health attributed the decline to a reduction in lower-acuity admissions due to a focus on reducing unnecessary admissions and using lower cost outpatient services where possible.

7. As it has worked to improve its financial picture, Ballad Health said it has continued to invest more than $25 million in new equipment and diagnostic technology. During the most recent quarter, the system's diagnostic and treatment equipment investments included new cardiac catheterization labs, new digital mammography systems and IV pumps.


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