An important question for healthcare systems is how long it will take to fully return to pre-pandemic volumes after shutdowns and virus fears affected operations last year. They also wonder when a spotty rally in deferred care will come to push them beyond pre-pandemic levels.
In the second quarter of this year, for-profit hospital operators saw their volumes largely rebound as COVID-19 cases declined and more patients sought non-COVID-19 related care. Tenet, HCA, Universal Health Services and Community Health Systems exceeded Wall Street expectations for earnings and revenue.
Some services were close to or returned to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, although others, such as emergency room visits, still lag behind. A major challenge now is the surge in cases of the delta variant that could hamper a full recovery this year, some executives warned in calls with investors.
Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said the first half of the year was “better than expected on many fronts” but added: “Please understand that we are not claiming any wins and we are not relaxing.”
The Dallas-based chain posted a profit of $ 120 million in the second quarter, compared to $ 88 million during the same period last year, and increased its full-year targeting for the second time this year, citing growth. volume and operational improvements, as well as redemption proceeds.
Nashville-based HCA saw its profits rise 37% year-over-year in the second quarter. And some volume metrics, such as same-facility admissions and equivalent same-facility admissions, increased about 3% and 1%, respectively, compared to the pre-coronavirus baseline. It also raised its guidance, forecasting that current levels of demand will continue through the remainder of 2021.
After mandatory closures and cancellations of elective procedures last year, healthcare executives said they are much better positioned to take advantage of future waves of viruses as operations continue.
Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems was somewhat atypical, posting a profit of $ 6 million in the second quarter, down from $ 70 million during the same quarter last year.
In a call with investors, CHS executives downplayed concerns about the highly transmissible delta variant, saying they were confident in “the ability of our teams to safely and effectively manage surges in COVID while meeting the growing demand for our services and healthcare. ” Needs of Non-COVID Patients “.
Universal Health Services posted a profit of $ 325 million in the second quarter, down from $ 251.9 million during the same quarter last year, and also boosted its guidance for the full year. But the delta variant and the corresponding job pressures pose some continuing uncertainties.
“The concern is with the resurgence of COVID that churn rates could increase because we have seen churn rates increase every time COVID volumes increase,” CEO Marc Miller said in a call with investors.