Hospital discharges

There is a total of 266 hospitals in Austria (2019). Almost six tenths of them (156 hospitals) cover acute and short-term care. The vast majority of inpatient stays (93%) can be attributed to this care sector. In the non-acute sector there are 78 hospitals in rehabilitation, 29 hospitals in long-term care and three hospitals in the "recovery and prevention" sector. For 2019, 2 390 825 hospital discharges from acute hospitals and 167 224 discharges from hospitals in the non-acute care sector have been documented.

In acute hospitals, the number of discharges rose by 60% between 1989 and 2009 (taking population growth into account, by 47%). Thereafter, inpatient stays levelled off at around 2.7 million per year; since 2016, the number of discharges has fallen significantly from 2 705 460 to 2 390 825 in 2019. This decline is primarily due to a new billing model for the hospital outpatient sector that was successively introduced in 2017 and 2018 and became mandatory on 1 January 2019. The application of this model has led to a partial shift from inpatient (day-clinical) to outpatient hospital care. At the same time, advances in medical examination and treatment technologies have led to an increase in the number of minimally invasive interventions, which can be performed during shorter hospital stays. This leads to a further shift of full inpatient treatments to the day-care sector.

Overall, the number of discharges from acute hospitals increased from 1 664 962 to 2 705 460 between 1989 and 2016, and the number of inpatient day stays rose almost ninefold during this period (75 838 versus 652 186 stays). In the following three years (2016 to 2019), the number of stays in acute hospitals decreased by 11.6%, whereby this decline is largely explained by the shift of inpatient day-care to outpatient care. Thus, the number of day stays dropped by more than 250 000 from 2016 to 2019 (which corresponds to a minus of almost 39%). In the full inpatient segment, three percent fewer discharges were recorded in the same period. This also goes along with a reduction in the average length of hospital stay; in long-term comparison, it has been continuously fallen by almost 43% since 1989 (1989: 11.0 days, 2019: 6.3 days). While half of the persons admitted as full inpatients spent up to 6.9 days in hospital in 1989, it was only 3.4 days in 2019.

About 23% of all hospital discharges from Austrian acute hospitals took place in Vienna; in one fifth of the cases, patients from the surrounding residential federal states of Lower Austria or Burgenland received medical care.

Results (overview): Hospital discharges since 1989

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