Methodological Notes – Health Facilities Module

Updated: January 2012

Concepts and Definitions

Health services are delivered in a variety of facilities, the most important (and costly) of which are hospitals. CircHOB collects data only on hospitals in circumpolar regions, which are broadly comparable internationally.

A variety of hospitals exist in circumpolar regions, from highly specialized ones such as the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, and university hospitals in Tromsø, Umeå, and Oulu, to small ones in remote towns of Greenland and Svalbard.

There are different categories of hospital beds, serving acute care, psychiatric care, rehabilitation, long-term care and palliative care, which may be located in general hospitals or specialized institutions. Acute care beds are further allocated to different medical and surgical specialties. In Finland, Iceland and Greenland, a number of beds are attached to health centres, some of which are used for the care of elderly people. In Finland such beds account for over half of all beds in the country.

According to OECD, “curative (acute) care beds” include beds in general and specialty hospitals, but exclude beds for other functions (such as psychiatry, rehabilitation, long-term and palliative care) in such hospitals and all beds in mental health/substance abuse institutions. Within the Nordic countries, the term “somatic” care or beds is used, which corresponds to general acute care hospitals elsewhere, and excludes psychiatric and long-term care beds.

Data Sources and Limitations

United States

Data for hospital beds in community or short-term general hospitals are obtained from Trendwatch Chartbook, produced annually by the American Hospital Association.


Hospital beds data are available from the Canadian Institute of Health Information’s Canadian Management Information System Database (CMDB). Data for “general hospitals” for two fiscal years (2004/05 and 2008/09) are shown. Only the current year table is available on the CIHI website, archived tables from other years were obtained by special request from CIHI.

Denmark, Greenland, and Faroe Islands

Data on the total number of medicine and surgery beds, excluding psychiatry and long-term care, are obtained from NOMESCO’s Social and health indicators database, supplemented by the annual report Health Statistics in Nordic Countries.


Iceland does not report hospital bed data to either OECD or NOMESCO. However, the total number of bed-days per year is published by the Directorate of Health (Landlæknisembættiđ). By dividing this by 365, the total number of beds can be determined, assuming full occupancy.


Hospital beds refer to “general hospitals and other institutions” (somatiske institusjoner). Private hospital beds are included. Data for the whole of Norway and the northern health region are from Statistics Norway’s StatBank.


Data on specialized somatic care beds are available from the Statistical Yearbook published by Statistics Sweden. These beds are operated by county and municipal governments, with a small number of private hospital beds.


Hospital beds data were from SOTKAnet of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), and refer to “specialized somatic health care”, including hospitals in both the private and public sector, but excluding psychiatric beds and nursing-home type beds operated by municipal health centres. The number of beds reported is actually calculated by dividing the total number of bed-days by 365.

Data are reported in the Rosstat publication Health Care in Russia. The number of beds in psychiatric and “narcological” hospitals are subtracted from the total number of beds. Data are only available for 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008.