Hospital mergers may not be best for the patient

Consolidation of hospitals and mergers between health systems may result in lower quality care, according to experts.

In a February 11, 2019 New York Times article, Austin Frakt, adjunct associate professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examined several studies on how mergers in the health care industry have affected patients. One study showed that consolidation in cardiology markets can lead to upticks in heart attacks, emergency department visits, and death among patients.

Despite claims from some in the health care industry that consolidation lowers costs and improves quality of care, evidence shows that competition among hospitals is tied to better health, according to Frakt. He pointed to several studies of Medicare beneficiaries that have shown that hospital competition is associated with lower rates of mortality from heart attacks and pneumonia, and to a recent JAMA Network article co-authored by Ashish Jha, dean for global strategy and K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard Chan School, calling for more scrutiny of consolidation’s effect on care.

Read the New York Times article: Hospital Mergers Improve Health? Evidence Shows the Opposite

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High healthcare spending blamed on hospital mergers, administrative costs (Harvard Chan School news)