Stats Show Initiative To Cut Hospital Readmissions Is A Success. But Critics Say Numbers Hide Darker Truth.
The program -- a part of the Affordable Care Act -- created financial penalties for hospitals whose readmissions exceed the national average for patients with certain ailments. But even though the research shows it helped improve rates, critics say that's because hospitals are taking shortcuts that don't help the patient. Meanwhile, Ascension Health and Providence St. Joseph Health are the latest to spark rumors about a possible merger.
The Data Are In, But Debate Rages: Are Hospital Readmission Penalties A Good Idea?
The policy, known as the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created financial penalties for hospitals whose readmissions exceed the national average for patients suffering from heart failure, heart attacks, and pneumonia. In recent years it has been expanded to include other conditions. Its aim was to encourage hospitals to deliver stepped-up care to severely ill patients even after they leave the hospital, in the hope of preventing return visits that result in more anguish for patients and skyrocketing costs for everyone else. (Ross, 12/11)
Hospitals And Health Plans Are Increasingly Investing In Consumer-Oriented Services To Stay Competitive.
Hospitals and health plans are increasingly investing in consumer-oriented services to remain competitive as patients and members shop more for their care. Most healthcare executives currently focus at least part of their strategic plan on consumerism, and they expect that will only continue to grow in the years ahead, according to respondents to Modern Healthcare's most recent CEO Power Panel survey. (Castellucci, 12/9)
Kaiser Health News:
In Era Of Increased Competition, Hospitals Fret Over Ratings
For two years, Saint Anthony Hospital here has celebrated its top-rated “A” grade from the national Leapfrog Group that evaluates hospital safety records. But this fall, when executives opened a preview of their score, they got an unwelcome surprise: a “C.” Hospitals take their ratings seriously, despite hospital industry experts’ skepticism about their scientific methodology and studies showing that scores may not have a huge influence on patient behavior. In a highly competitive market, no one wants to be a “C”-rated safety hospital any more than a “C”-rated restaurant for cleanliness. (Gold, 12/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
Hospital Giants In Talks To Merge To Create Nation’s Largest Operator
Two major hospital systems are in talks about a possible merger that would create the largest U.S. owner of hospitals, as a series of deals shape up to further consolidate control of the health-care landscape. Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, both nonprofits, are talking about combining, according to people familiar with the discussions. A deal would create an entity of unprecedented reach, with 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion, based on the most recent fiscal year. That would dethrone the nation’s largest pure hospital operator, HCA Healthcare Inc., which owns 177 hospitals and ended 2016 with $41.5 billion in revenue. (Evans and Wilde Mathews, 12/10)
Reports: Ascension And Providence St. Joseph In Talks To Merge
Ascension Health and Providence St. Joseph Health are in talks to merge and create the nation's largest hospital chain, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. A merger between St. Louis-based Ascension and Providence out of Renton, Washington would give the combined not-for-profit entity 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion. The deal would put the merged company ahead of HCA, which has 177 hospitals and reported $41.5 billion in 2016, according to Modern Healthcare data. (12/10)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Possible Merger Would Put Columbia St. Mary's And Wheaton Franciscan In Largest Hospital Company, Wall Street Journal Reports
Ascension is in talks to combine with Providence St. Joseph Health, another nonprofit system, in a merger that would create a combined health system with 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. ...The health system is now the second-largest in Wisconsin. (Hauer and Boulton, 12/10)
And in other hospital news —
CHI-Dignity Will Have To Overcome Some Financial Challenges To Make Their Merger Work.
A Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health combination that would form a not-for-profit powerhouse exemplifies a traditional health system mega-merger under a newly popular two-pronged leadership approach. More than a year after announcing plans to align, CHI and Dignity late last week signed a definitive agreement to merge, potentially creating the nation's largest not-for-profit hospital company. The new health system would include 139 hospitals, more than 159,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and other advanced practice clinicians. (Kacik and Bannow, 12/9)
Minnesota Public Radio:
'They Threw Us To The Wind': Mayo Hospital Closures Rankle Small Towns
Mayo announced this summer that it would close its LeRoy clinic after key staffers left, though its pharmacy remains open. ... This scenario is playing out in towns across the state as Mayo closes or trims service at smaller clinics throughout its Minnesota health care network, leaving some Mayo patients concerned about getting to a doctor and questioning the clinic's commitment to the people in its service area. (Richert, 12/10)