Study: Hospitals in for rough ride in 2014

Richard Craver | Winston-Salem Journal | December 20, 2013

Not-for-profit hospitals are in for another rough economic ride in 2014, reflecting the cumulative impact of changing economic trends over the past six years and new financial and technology challenges.The latest report on not-for-profit health systems by Standard and Poor’s Rating Services sheds a national light on the reasoning behind the extensive cost-cutting measures being taken by Cone Health, Novant Health Inc. and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The systems, among the Triad’s largest employers, have each significantly reduced their workforces in the past two years, dropping by a combined 1,500 jobs. They also have trimmed employee and management benefits, and in some cases cut back on employees’ work weeks.Several Triad community hospitals also have reduced staffing during the same time period.

“Negative pressures at U.S. not-for-profit hospitals and health systems are accelerating … and the sector is finally at the tipping point,” S&P credit analysts Kevin Holloran, Martin Arrick and Liz Sweeney wrote. Among the hospitals that Arrick and Sweeney cover are Novant and Wake Forest Baptist...Hospitals large and small have been facing economic and health-care challenges to their bottom lines, including... Increased regulatory and information technology costs as they implement electronic health record systems...