ISM: COVID-19 Surge, Labor Shortages Offset Growth in Hospital Economic Activity

Economic activity in the hospital subsector grew in September for the 16th consecutive month, according to the latest Hospital ISM Report on Business from the Institute for Supply Management.

“The Hospital PMI registered 60.6% in September, increasing 0.2 percentage point from the August reading of 60.4%, indicating a 16th consecutive month of growth,” Nancy LeMaster, MBA, chair of the Institute for Supply Management’s hospital business survey committee, said. “The Business Activity Index increased, while the New Orders Index decreased in September compared to August. The Employment Index fell deeper into contraction in September. The Case Mix Index decreased to 55.5%, down 0.5 percentage point compared to the August reading of 56%. The Days Payable Outstanding Index registered 48%, no change from the August reading. The Technology Spend Index registered 52%, an increase of two percentage points from the August reading of 50%.

“The coronavirus surge was felt by hospitals across the country, causing elective procedures to be canceled and capacity converted to COVID-19 units. Labor shortages continue to be a critical issue, with hospitals having trouble recruiting and retaining both clinical and support resources. Hospital Business Survey committee members commented that ongoing shipping delays were impacting availability of supplies beyond traditional personal protective equipment (PPE), with shortages in aluminum impacting availability of everything from medical equipment to crutches. Long lead times have led some organizations to increase inventory levels and purchase in bulk. Comments such as ‘When we can, we are still ordering above and beyond what we normally carry because if we don’t, we are scrambling to find supplies’ were typical.”

Hospital PMI History

Month Hospital PMI Month Hospital PMI
Sept. 2021 60.6 March 2021 58.8
Aug. 2021 60.4 Feb. 2021 57.5
July 2021 62.8 Jan. 2021 55.8
June 2021 63.1 Dec. 2020 62.6
May 2021 61.3 Nov. 2020 62.6
April 2021 61.9 Oct. 2020 63
Average for 12 months – 60.9

High – 63.1

Low – 55.8

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