Financial turnaround: Most hospitals acquired by Steward Health now in the black

The Boston-based Steward Health Care System has been criticized for some of its aggressive acquisition practices, but nevertheless has demonstrated success with financial turnarounds.

Most of the hospitals that Steward had acquired in recent years were losing money, according to an article in the Boston Business Journal. Now, only two of the nine hospitals owned by the for-profit system are operating in the red. And for 2015, the numbers for the system are continuing to improve.

Steward officials say the operating income for the system for the first half of 2015 is more than $50 million--already topping the figure for all of fiscal 2014, the article reports. That's despite the fact that Quincy Medical Center posted a $39.1 million operating loss in fiscal 2014 and had the highest negative net margin of any hospital in Massachusetts. That hospital closed late last year. 

Steward achieved the operating income milestone by focusing on shifting patient care away from its hospitals and more toward urgent care clinics and physician offices.

"When you look at the success of the model, it's how we've integrated the hospitals with the network with employee physician groups," Steward President Mark Girard, M.D., told the Boston Business Journal. "We acquired an at-home network and embraced alternative payment methods to integrate across the continuum and provide quality and convenience and access. It's a deliberate plan."

Steward also uses predictive analytics to determine how to staff each of its inpatient or outpatient properties.

However, the cost of delivering healthcare in Massachusetts has been climbing faster in recent years, according to state data. And Steward has come under some scrutiny for its aggressive acquisition of hospitals in Massachusetts, subtly shifting the balance of the hospital market as a result.

To learn more:
- read the Boston Business Journal article