Crowded emergency departments likely will see an increase in business as 32 million uninsured Americans gain coverage through the Affordable Care Act. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ED visits grew to 124 million in 2008 from 117 million in 2007.

Data from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey suggests that many hospitals hope to get their arms around the capacity issue by building freestanding, satellite EDs. These facilities enable hospitals to meet increased health care needs without the expense of adding beds. The number of hospitals with satellite EDs grew by more than 30 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Other fast-growing and newly tracked facilities and services reflect plans to use the latest technology to provide better and, in some cases, less invasive care; a surge in rehabilitative services; and significant growth in hospice and palliative care.

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For more information on AHA data, contact the AHA Resource Center at rc@aha.org or 312-422-2050.

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