Hospitalizations in Israel fell by 22% over a decade, Health Ministry report finds

Decline intensified at start of pandemic when elective surgeries were limited; masking reduced other illnesses and fear of contracting illnesses kept people away from hospitals

Illustrative photo of Rambam Hospital staff (Courtesy)
Illustrative photo of Rambam Hospital staff (Courtesy)

Israel’s hospitalization rate fell by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, while those who were admitted stayed for shorter periods, according to a Health Ministry report released Monday.

Despite 21,700 people being hospitalized in 2020 due to the coronavirus, which had them spending an average of 5.7 days receiving treatment, there was still an overall decline of 12% in admissions compared to the previous year. That figure was consistent with figures in other OECD countries, the report said.

The report attributed the sharp drop to a variety of possible causes, including a reduction of elective surgeries, the fear of catching the virus in the hospital and a drop in other respiratory conditions due to widespread masking.

In all, there were 1.1 million hospital admissions in 2020 — excluding maternity wards — representing a 10% reduction compared to 2019. Over half of those admitted in 2020 were 45 or older.

Excluding the maternity ward, the median age for those admitted to the hospital was 56 years old.

By 2020, 43% of those admitted to hospitals stayed for less than one day, a slight drop from the 41% figure in 2010.

Health Minister Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a meeting at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on October 24, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The report did not offer an explanation for the decade-long decline in the number of hospitalizations.

Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash said the report was compiled to help the healthcare system improve its performance, “with the aim of reducing the load on hospitals while maintaining the quality of treatment in the healthcare system.

“This [report] will provide another part of the bigger picture of the healthcare system and together with all future programs, some of which have already been implemented, it will be possible to improve the hospital system specifically and the healthcare system more broadly,” Ash said in a statement.

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