Healthcare consolidation is delivering savings
Regarding “Quality suffers, costs rise as hospital systems consolidate” (April 17, p. 11), the article rehashes the views the white paper authors have expressed in the past, most of which are antithetical to delivering high quality coordinated care. The fact is that healthcare is moving to a more-coordinated and comprehensive model that is improving the quality and efficiency of care.
To succeed, this endeavor requires significant realignment of the hospital field and better integration with physicians and other skilled caregivers. For example, a recent report by Charles River Associates that used contemporary data, completed transactions and in-depth interviews with health system executives confirmed that mergers actually decrease costs and the savings were reinvested in better care with improved quality and an expansion of services. Other studies have confirmed these findings. That same CRA study found that revenue declined following a merger—a finding at odds with the authors’ claims that realignment is the cause of higher prices.
The authors’ seeming preference would be to return to a world of unconnected providers with even greater government oversight that is not in the best interest of improving care for our patients and our communities. Progress is always painful, but for the hospital field progress is yielding tangible benefits for patients—so turning that clock back is not an option anyone should embrace.
Melinda Hatton Senior VP and general counsel American Hospital Association