HCA execs keep cost-cutting plan in back pocket for next year

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare's profit climbed to $668 million in the third quarter of this year, but the for-profit hospital operator is planning for a small drop in admissions next year, according to the Nashville Post

The 187-hospital system is building forecasts for next year based on 2019 volumes. The company expects demand for inpatient admissions next year will be down 2 percent to 3 percent from 2019, executives said during an earnings call on Oct. 26. HCA expects a drop in emergency room visits as well.

"But like our inpatient business, we expect it to be more acute, which should drive higher revenue per visits, offsetting some of the volume decline," HCA CEO Sam Hazen said during the earnings call. 

Mr. Hazen said managing operating costs has been a key part to the company's solid financial results this year, and the company is identifying areas it can further reduce costs, according to the Nashville Post

"In those areas where we anticipate some pressure, we believe we have future resiliency actions that help offset some of these challenges," Mr. Hazen said. 

When asked for more information, Mr. Hazen said HCA's call centers and lab services group could be streamlined. 

"We're challenging how we're structured to see again if we have redundancies in our structure and whether or not there are better ways to service the field and produce outcomes on that front," Mr. Hazen said.  

There are also opportunities to use technology initiatives to save on expenses and improve patient outcomes. 

"We think these work streams … have opportunities for the company … to offset any pressures that might serve us in 2021 and on into 2022," Mr. Hazen said. 

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