Outpatient volumes to increase in 2023, vast majority of health leaders say

An overwhelming majority of hospital and health systems are expecting an increase in outpatient volumes in 2023, and digital care will see the largest budget increases this year.

Such are the key findings in a March 2 Guidehouse and Healthcare Financial Management Association report.

Ninety-five percent of health leaders said such outpatient volumes will increase, with 40 percent expecting jumps of 10 percent or more, the report said. At the same time, 41 percent of leaders said inpatient volumes will drop, with 17 percent projecting a decrease of 10 percent or more.

"Most health systems are still experiencing volumes below pre-COVID levels, resulting in sizable market challenges," said Richard Bajner, Guidehouse partner and payer/provider leader. "These shifts should inform strategic growth efforts that are focused on person-centered care, such as excellence in ambulatory services, to create sustainable business models that attract and retain patients while driving financial resiliency in an era of volatility."

Almost 90 percent of leaders said they would hire more advanced practitioners in 2023 because of the expected increase in outpatient care, while 80 percent said they would take on more behavioral health providers.

Health leaders are also projecting digital care as their greatest budget increase this year, followed by revenue cycle automation. As such, 3 out of every 4 leaders stated they would be increasing hiring in IT, coding and revenue cycle in 2023.

The report contained survey data from 182 hospital and health system CEOs, CFOs, COOs and other executives.

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