Study: Specialty hospital competition not hurting general hospitals

Time after time, hospitals have traditionally argued that specialty facilities are cherry-picking the most profitable patients. This has led to many a regulatory struggle over whether specialty facilities should be allowed to open in various communities, plus tons of rancor between the doctors involved and administration of the general hospitals. However, the whole issue may be overblown, according to a new study of three healthcare markets.

The study, conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change, notes that in markets where specialty and general hospitals exist side-by-side, general hospitals did struggle initially to compete for staff and patient referrals.

However, in the three markets analyzed--Indianapolis, Phoenix and Little Rock, AR--general hospitals found little or no changes in patient acuity due to competition with a specialty competitor. One small exception was that general hospitals were more likely than safety-net hospitals to feel the impact of the competition.

So, what forces did seem important to these hospitals? When there was a change in patient acuity, hospitals usually attributed it more to rising numbers of uninsured patients.

To learn more about this study:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (reg. req.)

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