First, micro-hospitals fill in service gaps across various geographic areas, typically metro areas with growing populations. Whether that's simply cutting the distance potential patients need to travel for services like emergency or overnight acute care, or offering new services that hadn't existed before, health systems are examining markets to determine what exactly they should provide.
SCL Health, for instance, offers “state-of-the-art operating rooms,” CT scans, radiology and other advanced services in their Denver-area “community hospitals.” Other micro-hospitals have traditional medical offices in the same location.
As surgical and medical technology improves and patients demand quicker turnaround, outpatient offerings continue to grow. Palmer said that in Ohio, for instance, 24.9 million outpatient visits took place in 2015, as opposed to just 1.5 million inpatient visits (requiring admission to a hospital).
That means health systems are looking to scale down their in-patient facilities. For patients, these offerings located nearby, and in a smaller, less intimidating, service-oriented micro-hospital setting give them better access to advanced care. Easier parking options can also help attract those patients.
“Smaller, neighborhood-based hospitals are one way health systems are exploring ways to make care more convenient for patients and families,” said Brett Justice, senior vice president, Strategy & System Development, Mount Carmel Health System, which opened the first micro-hospital in Central Ohio along with Fairfield Medical Center. “These smaller facilities allow health systems to provide more services to a community—in the community—than a freestanding emergency room, urgent care or other ambulatory-oriented venue of care.”