Does HCA Follow Best Practices?

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , September 10, 2012

Should financial practices of HCA be vilified or lauded? That's a question I found myself asking while reading the recent New York Times series analyzing how the for-profit healthcare giant is somewhat craftily succeeding at making margin in healthcare.

HCA has carved a path to profit in healthcare—which is not easy—in its growth into a healthcare behemoth. And while some criticize its tactics (and the government investigates them), other healthcare organizations, both not-for-profit and for-profit, are modifying their practices to try to get similar results.

Profit, though a taboo word in the NFP world, is nevertheless essential to the survival of any healthcare organization. For-profits like HCA have private equity investors who demand returns, and that comes from growth and tight cost control. HCA owns 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, a sizable footprint to which many NFP hospitals and health systems aspire.

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