Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eating The Competition

It's happening all over the place.

Cardiology practices being consumed by large hospital systems: Charlotte, North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Tampa/St.Petersberg, Florida, and now, Roanoke, Virginia.

What does this mean for cardiologists, their patients, and cardiothoracic surgery referrals?

Everything.

It is interesting that many of these business plays have occurred in the Southeast, an area known for its large retiree population. Certainly, as Medicare reimbursements decline, administrative and malpractice costs continue to expand, and older cardiologists look for an exit strategy as they near retirement, the selling of their practice might be an attractive option for many.

But such a consolidation is also a strategic move by hospital systems to shore up their most lucrative healthcare "product lines." Acquiring potentially-competing groups adds additional geographic locations to perform cardiovascular testing without the added expense of physician recruitment, while assuring a steady stream of referrals to a fledgling cardiovascular surgery center.

Patients are increasingly moved through a healthcare system unaware of the powerful market currents shaping the direction and costs of their healthcare. A moonscape of larger and larger behemoths of healthcare are slowly taking shape across America as more and more doctors succumb to the inevitable market forces intent on squashing the former entrepreneurial healthcare climate, resulting in fewer patient options for affordable healthcare.

-Wes

3 comments:

TBTAM said...

I'm beginning to feel as though this next decade will see the end of medicine as we know it. The market forces have become too powerful to fight anymore.

Anonymous said...

We're seeing the same thing in Maine. What little competitive pressures there were are going away as small players give up on medicine as a business and the large players consolidate to gain leverage with commercial payers, the statehouse (Medicaid) and our US Reps and Senators (Medicare).

Physicians are becoming even more of a commodity and patients will have even fewer options.

At least we can unionize now since we'll all be employees (until they make it illegal again).

Robin said...

The WSJ had an article on the general Roanoke situation with Carilion.

(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121986172394776997.html?mod=2_1566_topbox)

See http://www.wdbj7.com/ for the video response locally.