New Minnesota Hospital Association data shows that almost 2,000 patients eligible for transfer to a continuing care setting are stuck in needed hospital beds
Jan. 17, 2023, Saint Paul, Minn. – New data from the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) reveals a major problem in the statewide care system: hospitals and health systems are struggling to properly discharge patients to appropriate care settings. MHA found that in one week in Dec. 2022, nearly 2,000 patients were eligible for transfer to a continuing-care setting such as a nursing home, group home, or residential mental health treatment facility but could not be discharged from inpatient care due to a lack of capacity in post-acute care settings. This resulted in 14,622 extra hospital patient days– a data sample that is reflective of the recent patient census situation in both rural and urban hospitals.
Discharge delays harm patient health outcomes and recovery, and negatively impact other patients who require hospital care, leading to longer wait times in emergency departments or other forms of delayed care. The financial impact is also significant because many payers do not reimburse hospitals and health systems for boarding these patients. Each extra patient day costs a hospital about $2,500, equating to almost $37 million in unreimbursed costs across Minnesota hospitals and health systems for the week reported.
Hospitals and health systems are already hanging off a cliff financially, with a sharp decline (172% decline for Q1 and Q2 2022 over same time period of 2021) in year-over year operating margin and exponentially rising labor and supply costs. Compounding a strained financial system with a broken care continuum will result in insurmountable pressure on hospitals and health systems.
“The safety net for our communities – hospitals and health systems – is severely frayed,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, CEO and president of MHA. “Our collective mission to care for Minnesotans in the right setting at the right time, no matter the circumstances, is in extreme jeopardy.”
Minnesota’s ongoing workforce crisis adds to the challenges of discharging patients, particularly to post-acute care settings. There is a severe shortage of health care professionals across all areas of health care, including nursing homes, long-term acute care settings, and hospitals, resulting in a lack of qualified professionals to care for and discharge patients in a timely manner. Minnesota hospitals and health systems reported a 250% increase in job vacancies last year.
MHA is asking for the state to take urgent action to help stabilize care capacity at Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems by:
- Providing premium pay to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other residential treatment facilities that admit high-acuity patients for care and treatment from the hospital.
- Providing temporary financial support for hospitals and health systems to offset the high costs of patients boarding in hospital beds and emergency rooms.
- Increasing Medical Assistance (MA) reimbursements to hospitals and health systems to better cover the cost of services provided to Minnesota's low-income and underserved populations.
- Supporting significant resourcing of the health care workforce through both existing and new strategies for retention, recruitment, and development.
This MHA data reports patient census data for hospitals and health systems during the week of Dec. 11-17, 2022.
The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) represents Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems, which employ more than 127,000 people, provide high-quality care for patients, and meet the needs of communities. Since 1917, MHA has worked to provide Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems with the resources, best practices, and guidance to provide an exceptional patient experience and high-quality, affordable care that extends beyond the hospital’s walls.