Fierce flu season to buoy for-profit hospital operator results: 7 things to know

For-profit hospital operators are poised to benefit financially from the particularly tough 2017-18 flu season as more patients seek care related to the illness, according to a Reuters report.

Here are seven things to know.

1. The current flu season has been notably severe, with 21,279 laboratory-confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations and 97 flu-related pediatric deaths reported by the CDC as of Feb. 23.

2. Due to this influx of flu-related illness, for-profit hospital operators Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Health in recent post-earnings calls reported a rise in patient admissions, according to the report.

3. On a same-facility basis, Tenet saw a 6.1 percent year-over-year increase in patient revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017, with adjusted admissions rising 1.3 percent. According to Reuters, Tenet also projected higher full-year profit and revenue, and said it added 20 more basis points to patient admissions volumes in the fourth quarter of 2017 due to the current flu season.

4. LifePoint Health reported lower patient volume in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, with admissions, inpatient surgeries, outpatient surgeries and emergency room visits all falling year over year. The for-profit hospital operator did not project admissions for the quarter that ends March 31, according to the report. However, its COO, David Dill, said last week: "We've seen through the first six weeks of the year many of our volume indicators, including admissions, adjusted admissions, emergency room volumes turn positive."

5. Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel told Reuters an upward trend in patient admissions at hospitals due to this flu season is likely to be more noticeable in the first quarter of 2018.

6. Analysts project for-profit hospital operators could see additional revenue as incoming patients receive tests and treatment for other ailments, according to the report.

7. Reuters reports CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance and other drugstore operators are also expected to benefit as more people get flu shots and buy over-the-counter cold medicines.

Read the full report here.



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