Unpredictable Demand and Low-Volume Hospitals


This Findings Brief assesses the degree to which the annual number of patient discharges varies from year to year for low volume hospitals. The study finds that low volume hospitals face more instability from year to year in demand for inpatient services than larger hospitals. Also, the average variability over time for the smallest hospitals, defined as less than 500 or fewer discharges a year, is nearly 60% higher than the average for all hospitals. Finally, the study concluded that even though low volume, rather than rurality, is the important factor, hospitals in extremely rural counties must contend with more fluctuation than other hospitals, primarily because they tend to be smaller.

North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
Kathleen Dalton, Mark Holmes, Rebecca Slifkin