Hiring, patents add to health care sector in GVSU report
Evidence of the recession shows up in hospitals in higher emergency room use and a sharp increase in uncompensated care, two Grand Valley State University economists said last week.
Yet rays of hope are poking through the recessionary gloom, with regional health care employment projected to grow by 2 percent in 2011 and strong West Michigan patent activity.
Paul Isley and Hari Singh, professors in GVSU’s Seidman College of Business, last week presented their findings in a report called “Health Check, Analyzing Trends in West Michigan, 2011.” The pair gathered and analyzed health care related information for Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties in their second annual study.
In their first-ever survey of 30 hospitals, the professors received nine responses and found wide variation among them, finding an average of 72,000 annual visits and a growth of 2.7 percent.
“This increase reflects the national trend that, as more patients lose health care insurance, they inevitably end up in ERs, driving up costs,” according to the report.
The hospital survey also revealed a 16 percent year-over-year increase in uncompensated care, which can include charity cases, bad debt and shortfalls in payments from government programs.
“Because more Americans have lost health insurance in these tough economic times, the amount of uncompensated charges has risen significantly.” As a proportion of total hospital costs, uncompensated care grew from 3.6 percent to 4.9 percent on average.
Employment is expected to grow by almost 2 percent at responding hospitals over the next year. A more detailed employment analysis pegged overall job growth in Michigan at 5.8 percent from 2008-18, with employment in education/health up by 12 percent to more than 1 million.
In West Michigan, the report estimated shortages in eight of 14 health care job categories, particularly acute for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses..
Ranir LLC, a manufacturer and marketer of oral care products, showed the most activity in 2010, the report showed. Also active last year in the four-county area were Access Business Group International, Van Andel Institute, IRAD Inc., Sentinel Group LLC, Garrison Dental Solutions, Spectrum Health Hospitals, Perrigo Co. and newcomers to the list: Shoulder Innovations Inc., Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine, Chameleon Development LLC, ISI Brands Inc., BFKW Inc., Wire Caddy LLC and Incisal Edge Products LLC.
“R&D in West Michigan in medical areas has transformed completely over the past 10 years. Virtually all activities assigned in the 2000s have been to a different set of companies than the patents assigned in the 1990s. There also has been an increase in the number of different assignees,” Isley reported.
“We had a 35 percent increase in the total number of patents, or pre-patents or applications generated. This is still an understatement of the activity going on. Even given that, the part that we can see is growing very quickly. The last five years in the KOMA region have seen the beginnings of a new R&D emphasis that could help revitalize the local economy.”