Health­care con­sol­i­da­tion is de­liv­er­ing sav­ings

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

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

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