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Kaufman Hall Report Offers National Snapshot of Hospital Recovery

June 29, 2021

Hospitals across the nation are showing some signs of recovery compared to the challenging early months of 2020, but they still have a long way to go to reach their pre-pandemic levels, according to a report released this week from Kaufman Hall.

The health care analyst’s monthly snapshot offers a look at key national hospital metrics, such as patient volumes, COVID-19 cases, adjusted margins, revenue, and expenses.

“Recent performance gains provide positive signs of recovery for the nation’s hospitals and health systems, but there still is a ways to go,” the report notes. “While the improvements over the devastating lows of early 2020 are to be expected, comparisons to 2019 offer a clear view of how hospitals are faring relative to pre-pandemic levels.”

Among the key takeaways from the report:

  • Encouraging COVID-19 trends:  The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases fell 63 percent during May, going from 49,478 on May 1 to 18,134 on May 31. The seven-day moving average for hospital admissions declined 44 percent, as well
  • Vaccinations:  With millions of Americans already vaccinated, the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 vaccinations fell nearly 60 percent during May, going from 2.3 million on May 1 to 930,703 on May 31
  • Narrow margins:  Hospital operating margins have improved significantly when compared to the first five months of 2020, but still have not regained pre-pandemic levels. Compared to the first five months of 2019, operating margins were down 20.5 percent year-to-date without CARES Act funding and down 9 percent when accounting for CARES funding
  • Expenses and revenues:  While revenues showed positive signs during 2021, expenses have increased significantly from pre-pandemic levels. The total expense per adjusted discharge declined 1.7 percent when compared to January–May 2020, but was up 16.6 percent when compared to January–May 2019

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of our outstanding hospital community and the need to invest in our public health infrastructure. HAP continues to advocate on behalf of hospitals at the state and federal level to ensure they have the resources they need to serve as anchors within their communities during the pandemic and beyond.

The full report—as well as a summary of its key findings—is available online.