Ambulatory clinics at public teaching institutions often have less potential for generating revenues than the inpatient services. In times of fiscal constraint, they are, therefore, vulnerable targets for cutbacks in services. A financial crisis in the Bexar County Hospital District led to administrative changes which caused a 20 percent decline in outpatient visits for the entire year. This resulted in a 10 percent fall in the inpatient census and adverse effects on teaching programs and on hospital finances. A regression of inpatient activity with outpatient activity showed a highly significant correlation (r =.57, p <.01). The decline in the inpatient census contributed to a renewed institutional commitment to ambulatory services. In addition to their direct role in patient care and training, the outpatient clinics thus appear to be essential to the success of inpatient teaching programs. These data emphasize the importance of “vertical integration” (that is, ownership of facilities providing several levels of care) of services to the survival of academic health centers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health