Healthcare Mergers Ball & Chain

The expansion of healthcare mergers continues to increase across the United States. This increase in acquisitions, may cause many trials and tribulations for the consumer- patient . There has not been a lot of research based on the effects of hospital system acquisition. What we do know is that it can help with increasing coordination and better quality, but unfortunately, on the downside it comes with a steep price tag.

Researchers Melnick and Fonkych, found that there was a discrepancy of nearly $4,000 per patient among larger hospital systems vs independent hospitals. This data is based on two of California’s biggest hospital systems, Sutter Health and Dignity Health. Although California has been the front runner for hospital mergers, it seems that the rest of the country will soon follow suit.  So what are the real benefits that come along with the price spike?

When independent hospitals are acquired the merger brings in greater managerial expertise and increases their access to capital requests. Some argue that this leads to greater efficiencies and streamlines hospital processes. A separate team of researchers used rates of inpatient mortality, rate of overused procedures and other patient safety indicators as values to examine “quality of care.” They found that quality only improved for one value, rate of overused procedures. Hospital systems were able to reduce the amount of overused procedures by 1.2%.

While there are positives and negatives to every change, the conclusion on hospital acquisition is still in the works. There is much more research to be done in order to come to a solid analysis on the two options. Although I am not sure if the hospital system benefits outweigh the negatives, once the systems themselves figure out a way to speed up approval processes and increase communication within the systems corporate structure the benefits will increase tremendously.

Cuellar, Alison, and Paul Gertler. “Health Affairs.” How The Expansion Of Hospital Systems Has Affected Consumers. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

Melnick, Glenn, and Katya Fonkych. “Hospital Prices Increase in California, Especially Among Hospitals in the Largest Multi-hospital Systems.” Hospital Prices Increase in California, Especially Among Hospitals in the Largest Multi-hospital Systems. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

Terhune, Chad. “As Hospital Chains Grow, So Do Their Prices For Care.” Kaiser Health News. N.p., 13 June 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.