It has been observed that typical conversations in Hospital wards post the surgery are as follows:-
Caretaker 1 – What did the doctor say in the morning round?
Patient – I will need to stay at the hospital for at least four more days?
Caretaker 2 – 4 Days? weren’t to supposed to be discharged day after?
Patient – Yes. But the doctor is non-committal on the discharge.
Caretaker 1 – Oh my God! Another 2 days, what is the guarantee that you will be discharged in 4 days?
Patient – (shrugs his shoulders) I don’t know.
Caretaker 2 – obviously, nobody has a clue. They will keep us here till they can squeeze out the last penny from us. I had told you that this hospital is full of unscrupulous doctors and administrators who cannot think beyond their own pockets.
Caretaker 1 – we should have gone to the other hospital where I know (someone) in the system. Now we don’t have any option but to stick around here and pay the “ransom”.
Caretaker 2 – we are left with no choice. The hospitals want to mint more money by keeping us here. These are all tactics to inflate the bill.
If you believe that this is a one-off conversation in a private hospital, then you need to rethink. Hospital staff surveyed at most hospitals revealed that such conversations are almost ubiquitous and take place almost every day at every private hospital.
What if we tell you that hospitals don’t actually think this way? What if you were told that hospitals actually want to discharge a patient sooner than later? What if you learnt that hospital lost profit in holding the patient beyond a point?
To appreciate this point kindly have a look at the graphs below
The above graph shows the example of a patient who gets admitted on day 1 and discharged on day 5 and the graph below depicts the same patient getting discharged on day 6.
As one would notice the total revenue to the hospital in the first case is far greater than that in the second case. This difference arises because the bulk of the revenue that is earned by the hospital is through the performance of the procedure/ surgery and not earned by the period spent by the patient in recovery at the hospital post-surgery. As is evident in the graph the peak revenue is on the day of the procedure i.e. Day 2 of admission (most surgeries are performed within 24-48 hours of admission). The margins too, follow a similar trend.
Furthermore, every additional day that the patient spends in the hospital increases the likelihood of the patient contracting Hospital acquired infection. This further lengthens the stay of the patient in the hospital without any major impact on profits since such period simply constitutes a recovery period for the patient in the hospital. Additionally, it also has a significant adverse impact on the reputation and goodwill of the hospital.
As can be seen, it is in the best interest, both financial as well as strategic, for the hospital to get a patient discharged as soon as possible. The only aberration is that hospitals that run low occupancy may sometimes choose to hold the patient longer than required but this is clearly not the norm. In any case, one ought to be careful before opting for such hospitals.