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Healthcare Insights

Trends at independent hospitals in the U.S.

The top 10 largest healthcare systems in the U.S. own more than 20% of all U.S. hospital beds. As the number of healthcare systems consolidates through merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, it is becoming less common for hospitals to remain independently owned.

This Healthcare Insight uses data from the Definitive Healthcare HospitalView product to analyze independent hospitals and compare them to healthcare system owned and affiliated hospitals.

What is an independent hospital?

Independent hospitals are not owned or operated by an integrated delivery network (IDN) or a larger healthcare system. In the HospitalView product, we identify independent hospitals as those that do not have a network affiliation listed. Our data and research teams use a number of resources to verify and update healthcare facility affiliations daily.

How many U.S. hospitals are independent?

As of April 2023, HospitalView tracks 1,480 independent hospitals, which is about 20% of the 7,300 total U.S. hospitals.

How many beds do independent hospitals have on average?

Independent hospitals have 68 staffed beds on average, compared to an average of 147 beds for healthcare system owned hospitals.

What is the average net patient revenue for independent hospitals?

The average U.S. hospital net patient revenue is about $193 million, according to the most recent 12-month interval tracked in our database. Independent hospitals average a net patient revenue of $97.6 million, and the average for healthcare system owned hospitals is $245.3 million.

What are the average expenses for independent hospitals?

Since independent hospitals are about half the size of healthcare system owned hospitals in terms of bed size, their expenses reflect similar differences. For example, the average operating expenses for health system hospitals is $244.2 million compared to $109.3 million at independent hospitals.

Information technology (IT), medical supply, salary, and contract labor expenses at independent hospitals are only a portion of the same expenses at IDN hospitals.

Average hospital expenses by ownership

ExpenseIndependent hospitalsHealthcare system owned hospitalsExplore dataset
Total operating expenses$109.3M$244.2MExplore
IT expenses$3.8M$10.1MExplore
Medical supply expenses$5.8M$17.2MExplore
Salary expenses$66.0M$110.9MExplore
Contract labor expenses$4.8M$10.1MExplore

Fig. 1. Data is from the Definitive Healthcare HospitalView product and aggregated from the most recent 12-month interval tracked in our database. Accessed March 2023.

How many doctors work at independent hospitals?

On average, 112 affiliated providers work at independent hospitals. For IDN-owned hospitals, the average is 236 providers.

What is the average patient satisfaction score for independent hospitals?

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a patient satisfaction survey that uses a 5-star rating scale. The average HCAHPS score is 3.24.

For independent hospitals, the average score is 3.60, compared to the average score of 3.17 for healthcare system-owned hospitals.

What is the difference between an independent hospital and a nonprofit hospital?

Independent hospitals are not owned or operated by a larger healthcare system or network of hospitals. They can be either for-profit or nonprofit, meaning they are either investor owned (for-profit) or they are considered a charity where they may pay less taxes but also tend to be more scrutinized by policymakers (nonprofit).

Are all independent hospitals nonprofit hospitals?

In analyzing hospital ownership compared to hospital profit status, half of healthcare system owned hospitals are nonprofit and 42% of independent hospitals are nonprofit.

Proprietary corporations, such as HCA Healthcare, own nearly one-third of hospitals affiliated with a health system and 44% of independent hospitals are government operated facilities, such as Parkland Health, one of the largest independent hospitals.

Hospital ownership and profit status

Profit status% of IDN hospitals% independent hospitalsExplore dataset
Governmental - city, county, district, federal, state16.5%44.0%Explore
Proprietary - corporation, individual, partnership32.5%13.9%Explore
Voluntary nonprofit - church and other51.0%42.0%Explore

Fig. 2. Data is from the Definitive Healthcare HospitalView product and aggregated from the most recent 12-month interval tracked in our database. Accessed March 2023.

Learn more

Healthcare Insights are developed with healthcare commercial intelligence from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights? Start a free trial now and get access to the latest healthcare commercial intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.