Managing the Outpatient Shift

Driven by dramatic developments in what’s technologically feasible, hospitals are seeing an ever-increasing shift to outpatient treatments. In the United States as one leading example, outpatient revenue is now almost at the same level as inpatient revenue.

These developments – especially when combined with, e.g., rapid recovery techniques – are great for patients. They allow them to re-enter their normal lives much more quickly and recuperate in the comfortable environment of their own homes.

At the same time, they pose dramatic challenges for hospitals. In our home market of Switzerland, the Association of Zurich Hospitals reported that reimbursements for outpatient treatments only covered 84% of accrued costs in 20171. While this creates clear incentives for inpatient procedures, both cantonal and national regulatory bodies have started intervening. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health has published a list of procedures in 2018 where only an outpatient treatment will be reimbursed2. Some cantonal authorities have also published their own lists.

The Cantonal Hospital of Baden has provided an impressive example of the impact of this shift3. For an arthroscopic meniscus operation, the revenue hit is dramatic: while and inpatient treatment generates almost CHF 4’000, the equivalent outpatient treatment creates less than half as much revenue.

To address these huge financial challenges, hospitals have to find new ways of providing surgical procedures. As many existing institutions are not set up in a way to do this effectively, new outpatient procedure centers are being set up. As one example, the University Hospital Zurich is currently building a large new outpatient center close to Zurich Airport in ‘The Circle’. Quite a number of other hospitals are following similar paths.

While these are obviously very promising investments, we at Nodus Medical believe that process improvements can also go a long way. By standardizing workflows inside and outside of the OR, we see huge efficiency gains even in existing inpatient environments.

Want to learn more about how our solution can help realize these gains? Reach out to us at! 

  1. Stationäre Behandlungskosten 2017. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  2. Ambulant vor stationär – Liste mit Eingriffen verabschiedet. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  3. «Ambulant vor stationär»: Die Zahlen und Fakten | KSB-Blog. Accessed March 28, 2019.