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What does free cash flow tell us about hospital efficiency? A stochastic frontier analysis of cost inefficiency in California hospitals

What does free cash flow tell us about hospital efficiency? A stochastic frontier analysis of cost inefficiency in California hospitals

Journal of Health Care Finance 37(1): 35-44

Hospitals are facing substantial financial and economic pressure as a result of health plan payment restructuring, unfunded mandates, and other factors. This article analyzes the relationship between free cash flow (FCF) and hospital efficiency given these financial challenges. Data from 270 California hospitals were used to estimate a stochastic frontier model of hospital cost efficiency that explicitly takes into account outpatient heterogeneity. The findings indicate that hospital FCF is significantly linked to firm efficiency/inefficiency. The results indicate that higher positive cash flows are related to lower cost inefficiency, but higher negative cash flows are related to higher cost inefficiency. Thus, cash flows not only impact the ability of hospitals to meet current liabilities, they are also related to the ability of the hospitals to use resources effectively.

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Accession: 056918089

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PMID: 20973372

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