M&A Forecast: 1 in 5 Hospitals to Realign Over Next Decade

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , January 25, 2013

But those solutions will become an imperative, Ahlquist says, and will become "a natural place to drive standardization from a consumer's standpoint."

Ah, the consumer. Many have long predicted that consumers would begin to shop for their healthcare based not only on quality, but on price.

Those predictions have proven, so far, to be premature. For one thing, the difficulty of comparisons between providers has thus far been a limiting factor, as has comparison of quality scores, although it's getting better.

The real driver may be the fact that as consumers foot more of their own healthcare bills through coinsurance and high deductibles, such comparability will be essential.

So while predicted revenue declines of 20%-25% are shocking, the news is not all bad. Absent internal reforms and repositioning, such declines would prove a death knell for many hospitals. Ten years is a long time—if you begin the work now.

"In order to make care solutions work, you need data from the payer and provider about the patient. The payer doesn't know much about what happens between patients and doctors," says Ahlquist.

"The provider doesn't know about patients because they get care outside the system. But together they do have the information they need. At one level, it's an absolute requirement in changing the system. More and more people are realizing that."

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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