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Kentucky Hospital Utilization report cover

Kentucky Hospital Utilization

An analysis of trends in inpatient visits, outpatient visits, and emergency room utilization at Kentucky hospitals. (2024)

See below for a selection of different data visualizations using KHA InfoSuite Hospitalization.

Click on each chart to view the full-size version.

Know Your State

The current population estimate for the state is 4,512,310.

The Kentucky State Data Center (KSDC) at the University of Louisville partners with the U.S. Census Bureau to disseminate official Census data to the public. The following data visualizations were created by the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) using data from the KSDC to “know your state” before viewing the information about hospitalizations and other statistics.

Figure 1 shows the population estimates by Area Development District (ADD) from 2020 – 2022. Based on the most recent estimates for 2022, the largest population centers in the state are the Kentuckiana (1,020,066), Bluegrass (838,724), and Northern Kentucky (473,875) regions. The current population estimate for the state is 4,512,310.

Figure 2 provides an estimate of the population by age group and race in 2022. Race is shown for each age group and varies among residents of different ages.

FIGURE 1: Population Estimates by Area Development Districts

FIGURE 2: Percent of Popualtion Estimate 2022 by Age Group, Race and Hispanic Origin

Inpatient Cases

Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate the current trend of a declining number of discharges (hospital stays) but increasing length of stay, which is indicative of an increase in patient acuity and the severity of illness. In addition, as shown in subsequent figures, the length of stay varies by ADD and patient age. The longest average length of stay (ALOS) is observed for adolescents from age 6 – 17 and patients aged 55 and older.

Figures 7 and 8 depict the type of insurance (payer) and the residence. Nearly 72 percent of discharges are beneficiaries of government programs, the state Medicaid program (28.9 percent), and the federal Medicare program (43.0 percent). Less than a quarter of all patients have employer-sponsored (commercial) insurance coverage. The vast majority of patients, more than 9 of 10, are Kentucky residents.

The last three figures show the most frequent medical and surgical services and the patient discharge status. The most common medical services in the calendar year 2023 address respiratory and circulatory conditions and childbirth and newborns. Similarly, the most common surgical services were for childbirth and the circulatory and musculoskeletal systems. The majority of patients, approximately 68 percent, have routine discharge to home and self-care, while another 9 percent are referred to home health services and 8 percent to skilled nursing.

FIGURE 3: Annual Discharges from 2017 – 2023

FIGURE 4: Average Length of Stay from 2017 – 2023

FIGURE 5: Average Length of Stay by Area Development District from 2019 – 2023

FIGURE 6: Average Length of Stay by Age, 2023

FIGURE 7: Inpatient Discharges by Payer, 2023

FIGURE 8: Patient Location, 2023

FIGURE 9: Medical Procedures by MDC, 2023

FIGURE 10: Surgical Procedures by MDC, 2023

FIGURE 11: Patient Discharge Status, 2023

Outpatient Cases

Figure 12, unlike the decline in inpatient discharges, and with the exception of 2020, the first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, shows an increasing trend in outpatient visits. A larger share of these visits are for patients with employer-sponsored (commercial) health insurance. However, 61.6 percent of patients are beneficiaries of state and federal government programs. Nearly all outpatient visits result in routine discharges to home and self-care.

FIGURE 12: Annual Outpatient Visits from 2017 – 2023

FIGURE 13: Outpatient Visits by Payer, 2023

FIGURE 14: Outpatient Discharge Status, 2023

Emergency Room

Emergency room (ER) visits declined for several years and dropped off during 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. They have increased since but remain below pre-COVID levels. In calendar year 2023, there were approximately 90,000 fewer ER visits than in 2019.

FIGURE 15: Total Emergency Room Visits from 2017 – 2023