US hospital beds per capita and what that might mean for your health system

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

In our May 2017 publication The Post-Acquisition Quality Trap, we explored the patient care impacts of a hospital acquisition and ways to avoid quality declines experienced by most acquisitions.

We now take a look at an interesting statistic that may serve as a leading indicator of future hospital activity. We looked at the bed counts for all Medicare certified hospitals across the US and then compared this to US census population statistics across each state. The findings show regions of the country with higher and lower bed counts.

The map below shows US states color coded by beds per capita (100,000 people). The darker colors highlight states with a higher than average bed count while the lighter colors highlight states with a lower than average bed count.

The 5 states with the highest beds per capita were:

1. Iowa

2. Washington DC

3. North Dakota

4. South Dakota

5. Florida

The 5 states with the lowest beds per capita were:

1. California

2. Colorado

3. Vermont

4. Oregon

5. Washington

There are many reasons for higher bed to patient ratios, including higher levels of inpatient needs, but as we continue to move care outside of the acute care settings and into ambulatory care, we should expect to see macro changes in the acute bed to patient ratio.

Don Ellis is a Sr. Partner will Ellis Adams, working hospital clients across the country on EHR Optimizations and Population Health strategies. Don is an Agile Certified Practitioner, Certified Program Manager, Cerner Certified System's Engineer and Epic certified management consultant. He can be reached at