Why are hospitals increasingly focused on specialty care?

Hospitals are increasingly geared toward specialty care--expanding even as healthcare's focus shifts toward preventive care, according to Columbus Monthly.

OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus will open its $321 million Neuroscience Center next fall, and Central Ohio providers invested nearly $3 billion in expansions and renovations in the last five years, many of which are specialty-based. The Center will give more patients access to Riverside's leading neuroscience program, according to Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., an increasing important priority as the population ages. "It is incumbent upon us to continue to lead this community where we are already established as a leader," he said.

Competition may drive the acceleration, said Cathy Levine, executive director of the Ohio-based nonprofit Universal Healthcare Action Network. "What I see is a duplication of services--the building of competing heart hospitals, cancer treatment hospitals," she told Columbus Monthly. "It's happening, and I haven't seen objective data analysis that convinces me that this duplication of services is happening because of community need and not competition for market share. I'm concerned that it's driven by competition for market share."

Ohio State University is also in the midst of a $1.1 billion expansion, anchored by a new emergency department, the 276-bed $750 million James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and Critical Care Center, and an attached Critical Care Center with 144 beds, 30 of which will be reserved for cancer patients.

These expansions come at a time when the healthcare industry is increasingly incentivizing preventive care, which will boost demand for outpatient care and decrease the need for inpatient beds, according to Vanderhoff. The shift is already visible in the wave of outpatient, primary care and emergency care centers springing up in Central Ohio suburbs, according to the article.

A recent report found that the patient-centered rural care model could result in greater savings than specialty-focused urban models, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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