Erlanger Health System's growth continues

The exterior of Erlanger hospital is shown in this file photo.
The exterior of Erlanger hospital is shown in this file photo.

Erlanger Health System's fiscal year 2018 audited financial statements, which were released Monday evening, reveal a year of growth, accomplishments and some challenges.

Net patient revenue for the health system increased about 13 percent, from about $836 million in 2017 to more than $944 million in 2018. Erlanger's assets and equity also grew by about 11 percent.

Independent auditor Doug Arnold called the health system's growth "extraordinary under any circumstances," and Erlanger CFO Britt Tabor dubbed 2018 the hospital's "best year ever."

"Most hospitals either are flat or decreasing in their net patient revenue, so that [13 percent growth] is phenomenal," Tabor said, adding that other major accomplishments for the year include opening the heart and lung institute, a new inpatient pharmacy, behavioral health facility, cancer center, and acquiring Erlanger Murphy Medical Center in North Carolina.

But the hospital's biggest accomplishment and challenge was converting its medical records to a new electronic system, a software called Epic. In the process, Erlanger's operating costs increased, including a $19 million one-time expense associated with the implementation, resulting in a bottom-line net income of $526,913 for the year.

Although Erlanger's position is "comfortable," Arnold said, this year proved more difficult that last year due to the Epic conversion.

Net days in accounts receivable - how many days pass from when a bill leaves until payment arrives - built up to 71 this spring as the hospital worked out expected kinks. As of June 30, net days in accounts receivable was down to 68, but Tabor said 52 days is the goal.

"We're slowly working that back down, and we should be back at norm by June 2019," he said.

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at or 423-757-6673.

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