Just this week for example, we see a report that many elective percutaneous coronary revascularization patients can be safely discharged six hours after their procedure, rather than kept in a hospital bed overnight. This could free at least 35,000 or more hospital beds days each year.
Even bariatric surgery, which just a few years ago required a hospital stay of a week or more, is now being done laparoscopically. Adjustable gastric band procedures, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February, can sometimes be done on an outpatient basis.
5. Emergency departments will become even more creative in managing patients who don't need admission, using urgent care clinics and observation alternatives.
6. In some states the number of hospital beds, even with hospital closures, is on the increase. In California, for example, the number of hospital beds has had a net growth of 5% between 2005 and 2010, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. And, many hospitals that are rebuilding to meet the state's strict safety requirements are adding licensed beds, not reducing them, as they upgrade from double-bed rooms to single-bed rooms, and expand in an effort to dominate a market.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "What about all the normal growth in population and all the aging baby boomers who will soon need care? What about the 32 million uninsured Americans who will soon have coverage?"