Hospital Mergers and Acquisitions: No Improvement in Health Outcomes
January 13, 2020
Hospital consolidations have long been associated with increased healthcare costs for patients. But a new study has found that the quality of care also declines after a hospital acquisition.
Published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, the “Changes in Quality of Care After Hospital Mergers and Acquisitions” study tracked 246 hospitals that were acquired between 2009 and 2013, with researchers focusing on readmission rates and patient experience.
According to Leemore Dafny, one of the authors, “there is no systematic evidence that acquired hospitals improve in quality. There is plenty of evidence that acquired hospitals raise prices. The reorganization of our hospital landscape, is not, on average, helping consumers.”
The Study Found:
Quality of care declines slightly at hospitals after a merger.
More hospitals are merging as a way to share costs, but that often doesn’t lead to better health outcomes.
It’s possible that care may decline as hospitals that merged face less competition.
These findings raise questions about the ongoing consolidation in healthcare. During the first three quarters of 2019, there were 71 announced hospital and health system mergers, according to healthcare consulting firm Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC.