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Micro-hospitals and the Future of Healthcare

By August 8, 2016 No Comments

Micro-hospitals Emerge as an Alternative Delivery Model


When it comes to thinking big in the delivery of healthcare, several organizations are going small – with the introduction of micro-hospitals as a more accessible, cost effective access point and delivery model.


What is a Micro Hospital?


Micro-hospitals are licensed facilities which offer a variety of emergency medical services such as surgery, laboratory, radiology, and select inpatient services.  In the spectrum of delivery models – they are priced higher than urgent care centers – due to the fact that they offer inpatient services, but are priced lower than traditional hospitals – as they don’t have the full service overhead.


Similar to urgent care centers and traditional hospital Emergency Departments, micro-hospitals are open and available to provide services 24 hours per day seven days per week.  They are an innovative way to bring new service offerings to smaller markets where it does not make sense to open a full service hospital, but where there is a need for more intensive service offerings locally than can be found at a traditional urgent care center.


For those who live in communities that are located far from a traditional hospital, this provides unique cost effective access to common care needs within a more bite sized geographic area. 


Where Will You Find Micro-Hospitals?


Currently the micro-hospital model can be found in Colorado, where facilities are referred to as “community hospitals.”  Las Vegas also has plans to go big by going small with the creation of new micro-hospitals slated for later this year.


In a recently published article in the Denver Post, Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier said “I think [a micro-hospital] will add a lot to a community that looks at having to travel long distances.  It can fill a nice niche.”


The Business Benefits of Going Small


According to Kalyn Saulsbury of the Advisory Board  “we’ve increasingly heard from our members that traditional facility options such as ambulatory centers, urgent care sites, and freestanding EDs are not always sufficient. Most ambulatory centers don’t offer a complete breadth of services while full-scale hospitals often offer more than the community needs. Micro-hospitals are emerging as a middle ground.”


Micro-hospitals are an effective way to serve new markets where there is an existing gap in services, or lack of convenient access to a traditional hospital.  As stated by Saulsbury “locating the micro-hospital within 18 to 20 miles of a full service hospital is a good rule of thumb.”


What are Key Characteristics of a Micro-Hospital?


  • Micro-Hospitals offer services 24 hours per day 7 days per week and include inpatient services (usually 8-10 beds)
  • Core services include Emergency Department, pharmacy services, laboratory services, and imaging services
  • Ancillary services are highly variable, and a key distinction of the micro-hospital is the ability for the facility to specifically create or adapt services that are needed in a specific market area – these services may include specific outpatient surgical procedures, dietary services, primary care, and women’s health services.
  • They are typically located in retail or other high traffic areas, and are best suited for sprawling metropolitan areas rather than rural areas


Do you think that your community could benefit from a micro-hospital? We would love to hear what you think!  Please share with us in the comments below or on social!