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Hospital mergers and acquisitions not linked to better care, study finds

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor / January 2, 2020

When a merger or acquisition occurs in healthcare, the conjoining providers often say that patient experience will benefit as a result. But new findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that may not be the case.

In fact, the study found just the opposite: Acquired hospitals actually saw a patient experience that was moderately worse, on average. What’s more, 30-day mortality and readmission rates stayed largely the same at such facilities.

The only real improvement that was found among the majority of acquired entities was in the realm of clinical process, which improved modestly. But the improvement was so incremental that it couldn’t be linked to the actual acquisition, and prices for commercially insured patients tended to be higher.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT

The research looked at 250 hospitals acquired in deals between 2009 and 2013. In addition to patient satisfaction and 30-day mortality and readmission rates, the data also looked at the frequency with which heart, pneumonia and surgery patients received the recommended care. The study looked at results three years before and after the acquisition, and compared those results to nearby hospitals not involved in M&A transactions.

Patient satisfaction scores at acquired hospitals tended to be worse, on average. Such scores take into account what rating a patient would give a hospital, and how likely they would be to recommend it to someone else.

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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust.

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