Understanding Hospital Financial Net Working Capital

Lower is Better

[By Staff Reporters]

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Net working capital is the difference between current assets and current liabilities. The lower the net working capital, the more economically efficient the medical care provided. Some important definitions and ratios for hospitals include those immediately below:

  • Days Sales Outstanding: AR/(net sales/365)

Year-end receivables net of allowances for doubtful accounts, plus financial receivables divided by net sales per day. A decrease in days sales outstanding (DSO) represents an improvement in cash flows while an increase represents deterioration. The hospital industry average is 30 days.

  • Days Payable Outstanding: AP/(total expenses [less depreciation and amortization] / 365)

Year-end payables divided by expenses per day. An increase in days payable outstanding (DPO) is an improvement, while a decrease is not. Payables exclude accrued expenses. Hospital industry average is 20 days.

  • Days Inventory Outstanding: Inventory/(net sales/365)

Year-end inventories divided by sales per day. A decrease in days inventory outstanding (DIO) is an improvement, while an increase may be a sales deterioration. Hospital industry average is 4 days.

  • Days Working Capital: (AR + inventory – AP)/net sales/365)

Year-end net working capital (service receivables plus inventory, minus AP) divided by sales per day. The lower the better. Hospital industry average is 14 days.


For more health economics and finance terms and definitions, please review the following:

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