Micro-hospitals have gained a foothold in the healthcare community, becoming a hot topic within the past three years. Less than 20 states, including Colorado, have integrated them into the healthcare system.
Also known as “community hospitals”, micro-hospitals are operating in urban and suburban areas where the demand for hospitals exceeds the amount in existence. Health systems like SCL Health – the first to develop one in Colorado – are utilizing them to establish a presence in desirable markets lacking enough demand for full-size hospitals. Because urgent care centers or freestanding emergency departments do not offer inpatient facilities, micro-hospitals are filling that niche.
The push towards more micro-hospitals seems to be consistent with the industry trend of moving towards population health. Micro-hospitals allow services to be closer to home in a way that is appropriately sized for the population compared to larger and more complex facilities, improving access to health care for thousands who live in underserved areas.
Facilities are typically less than 50,000 squared-feet and licensed for 10 to 20 beds. While the cost for visits are higher than those at urgent care centers, it’s lower than those at traditional hospitals.
The growing interest in micro-hospitals is expected to endure as the healthcare industry continues to look for ways to create more accessible, cost-effective delivery methods as healthcare spending rises nation-wide.