Behavioral healthcare facility occupancy took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Hospitals and healthcare providers all had to limit in-patient services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This caused mental and behavioral health providers to struggle as COVID-19 limited their referrals from those healthcare providers. As the pandemic comes to an end, providers everywhere are beginning to face the trends and challenges for healthcare facility occupancy in 2021.
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Overview of Healthcare Facility Occupancy in the US
Healthcare facility occupancy in the United States has always been a “buzz” phrase. Occupancy rates refer to the proportion of beds that are currently occupied by patients divided by the total number of beds in a given facility.
Occupancy rates directly correlate to revenue, financial forecasting, resource utilization, staffing, and so much more. Providers utilize healthcare facility occupancy rates to determine how many beds will be occupied in the future, how many staff members need to be on the schedule, and how many resources they need to make sure they have on hand.
As of 2017, the average hospital occupancy rate in the United States was 65.9%. The preferred standard for a perfect facility occupancy rate in the field falls somewhere between 80-90%.
There is a balance between what resources are available versus how many beds are occupied at this preferred rate.
With the current average occupancy rate being so much lower than ideal, organizations are being forced to size down, lower their staff, limit their resources, or even worse, close their doors to patients.
Now, especially after the pandemic, behavioral healthcare providers are eager to improve how they predict and increase their facility occupancy moving forward.
Factors and Cause for Low Capacity
Outside of a global pandemic forcing organizations to shut their doors, here are some reasons that occupancy levels could be suffering at an organization.
When an organization does not have effective marketing practices in place, its occupancy rate suffers. Traditional and digital marketing strategies are an integral part of widening an organization’s reach and bringing in new business. Providers who do not engage with the marketplace and providers will see their competitors start to surpass them.
Poor Referral Program
Referral programs, when implemented correctly, contribute vast numbers of new patients and increased occupancy for health and behavioral health providers. Inadequate referral programs that yield few results could be contributing to an organization’s low healthcare facility occupancy.
Lack of Data
Reporting and data are what every successful organization uses to leverage change and achieve results. When an organization does not have access to rich reports and insightful information, they do not have what they need to make quality decisions for their business. Data and reporting tools can also play a considerable role in forecasting, marketing, and referrals programs.
Lack of Insurance Contracts
If your facility is not an in-network provider for the insurance companies most commonly used in your area, occupancy rates can suffer. Consider investing the time and resources to go through the contracting process with more insurance companies.
Types of Facilities Impacted by Low Occupancy
- Substance Abuse Facilities
- Psychiatric facilities
- In-patient facilities
How Reporting Plays a Role in Increasing Healthcare Facility Occupancy
Whether or not an organization has quality reporting tools can make or break their healthcare facility occupancy. Reporting tools give agencies much-needed insight into their decision-making process, whether it be forecasting, scheduling, billing, demographics, or other important information. Having this data on their tool belt is ultimately what gives them the power to make accurate predictions and thoughtful preparation for the future of their facility. With a quality reporting tool, providers can understand the steps they need to take to increase their healthcare facility occupancy.
Want to learn more about occupancy rates in your behavioral health facility? Check out our blogs which explore digital and community marketing as well as updates and refinement to your referral program. We also have white paper you can download below.
Optimizing billing and forecasting are key to helping patients get the care they need, growing as an organization, and worrying less about your bottom line. To learn more about Logik’s billing and forecasting solutions schedule a demo.