Hospitals forfeit major revenue stream by delaying elective surgeries — 5 things to know

CMS, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association and the American College of Surgeons are among the many organizations asking hospitals to minimize, postpone or cancel elective procedures until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

The Motley Fool explained what this guidance could mean for hospitals and hospital operators:

1. Hospital operators will likely continue seeing stocks decline as unexpected costs mount and elective procedures are delayed due to the novel coronavirus. Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare has already posted a decline of about 43 percent this year.

2. Elective surgeries make up a substantial portion of hospital revenue, bringing in about $700 more per admission than emergency room admissions, according to Kaiser Health News.

3. In 2011, surgical stays accounted for roughly 48 percent of hospitalization costs, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported.

4. Cardiovascular surgeons are the top revenue-generators for hospitals, according to a Merritt Hawkins survey. Orthopedic surgeons rank No. 4 in terms of revenue generation, bringing in about $3.3 million annually.

5. The American Hospital Association and other organizations have expressed concerns over recommendations to delay elective surgery. In a March 15 letter to the U.S. surgeon general, they outlined the need to prioritize seriously ill patients:

"We agree that the crisis as it develops may require the curtailment of the least critical or time-sensitive hospital services, but any curtailment must be nuanced to meet the needs of all severely ill patients. Our patients will be best served by carefully evaluating and prioritizing gradients of 'elective' care to ensure that the most time-sensitive medically necessary care can be delivered by physicians and hospitals."

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