News & Commentary

Microhospitals Filling a Role

Microhospitals are finding their niche in the health care system, reports U.S. News & World Report. The facilities provide about 10 beds for short stays and can treat some of the less emergent emergency services usually done at large hospitals.

They’re popular; the magazine describes them as a “trend” that has surfaced in about 19 states. Microhospitals are often built by major hospitals or physician group practices to fill gaps in care in specific locations.

There are critics as well. Just how proficient will the doctors at such facilities be? Innumerable studies have shown a strong association between volume and safety in health care.

Leah Binder, president and CEO of the LeapFrog Group, tells the magazine that, “they may be perfectly capable of doing the procedure so long as they do enough of them….”

These are questions that patients should ask, US News suggests; they should “probe deeply into the microhospital’s track record and capabilities….”

The care given at microhospitals depends on the demographics of the surrounding community. For instance, if the microhospital is in a well-to-do neighborhood with relatively young and healthy residents, it might focus more on fixing sprained muscles and broken bones. If the community is older, the focus might be heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Patient volume differs depending on the location. “Typically, we see 25 to 80 patients a day in our emergency departments,” Richard Bonnin, the communications director for Emerus, tells the magazine. Emerus operates more than 20 microhospitals across the country. “Of those who receive inpatient care, the average length of stay is two days.”

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