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Hospital acquisitions leading to increased patient costs

Medical News Today,  25 October 2014

The trend of hospitals consolidating medical groups and physician practices in an effort to improve the coordination of patient care is backfiring and increasing the cost of patient care, according to a new study led by the University of California, Berkeley.

The counterintuitive findings, published on Tuesday, Oct. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, come as a growing number of local hospitals and large, multi-hospital systems in this country are acquiring physician groups and medical practices.

"This consolidation is meant to better coordinate care and to have a stronger bargaining position with insurance plans," said study lead author James Robinson, professor and head of health policy and management at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. "The movement also aligns with the goals of the Affordable Care Act, since physicians and hospitals working together in 'accountable care organizations' can provide care better than the traditional fee-for-service and solo practice models. The intent of consolidation is to reduce costs and improve quality, but the problem with all this is that hospitals are very expensive and complex organizations, and they are not known for their efficiency and low prices."

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