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International patients boost profits at Children’s Hospital

Patriots linebacker Darius Fleming greeted patients at Children’s Hospital after a Boston Pops concert.
Patriots linebacker Darius Fleming greeted patients at Children’s Hospital after a Boston Pops concert.(Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Profits jumped last year at Boston Children’s Hospital, driven by a surge in patients from the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, the health care provider reported.

Children’s earned $113 million on operations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 28 percent from $88 million a year earlier.

The growth was fueled largely by international patients: Revenue from these patients soared 47 percent from last year, nearly six times the pace of revenue growth from local patients.

Children’s has increased marketing and outreach overseas in recent years to attract new international business.

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“It’s something we’ve targeted for growth,” said Doug Vanderslice, chief financial officer at Children’s. “The population in the Boston and New England area is fairly static. Finding growth in international patients is very much a positive sign.”

Boston’s teaching hospitals have long been a draw to patients in other countries seeking care for serious and complex medical conditions. International patients are lucrative for hospitals because they include wealthy individuals who pay full price for expensive procedures.

At Children’s, for example, international patients account for 4 percent of patients discharged, but more than 7 percent of revenues.

Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, owned by Partners HealthCare, also serve international patients but did not see as big an increase as Children’s did this year. Mass. General is in talks to build a hospital in China.

Children’s Hospital doctors had more than 551,000 patient visits in the last fiscal year and admitted about 24,000 patients to the hospital.

Inpatient admissions declined 2 percent over the year, but Children’s more than made up for that by taking care of sicker patients who require more sophisticated and costly care.

Many of those patients were from other countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, China, and Mexico.

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“We continue to be a magnet for highly complex care,” Vanderslice said.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey
can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.