Hospitals’ Outside Rebound

A new McKinsey survey found that healthcare system leaders expect patient volumes to surpass 2019’s levels by next year, while revealing an interesting shift in how/where many of these patients will be getting their care.

The Rebound – The leaders from 100 large private US hospitals reported that their ED and inpatient/outpatient volumes returned to 2019 levels in July 2021 (so, somewhat pre-Delta) and forecast that 2022 volumes will be 5%-8% above 2019.

The Outpatient Shift – Outpatient procedures are expected to drive much of this future patient growth (+8% in 2022, +9% in 2023), with the biggest outpatient increases in orthopedics, psychiatry, and cardiology.

The Virtual Shift – Although it would take another lockdown to return to 2020’s virtual care numbers, the leaders expect virtual visits to represent around 15% of their outpatient volume in 2022/2023, 300% higher than in 2019.

It’s Not Just McKinsey – You probably don’t need a prestigious consulting firm to tell you that more procedures are moving to outpatient settings and more patient visits are being held virtually. The outpatient shift has been going on for some time, and the recent evolution of telehealth tech and home care delivery has brought some major home care commitments from the biggest systems in the country. We even launched an excellent new newsletter to help providers keep up with healthcare’s virtual shift.

The Radiology Impact – Technically the McKinsey forecast didn’t mention imaging once, but patients’ continued shift to beyond hospital walls will definitely have an imaging impact, including more virtual radiologist consultations, more outpatient image-guided procedures, and more at-home and near-home imaging. It could also mean less in-hospital imaging.

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