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Fundamental Shift Seen in Healthcare Acquisition and Affiliation Strategies

LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwired - June 22, 2014) -  Acquisitions and affiliations are now being driven more by strategy than by financial need, according to new research released today at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's (HFMA's) 2014 National Institute in Las Vegas.

While traditional acquisitions -- in which a weaker healthcare system is acquired by a stronger one -- still occur, the trend is shifting toward mergers and acquisitions that take place between financial equals, according to the report. These are value-focused acquisition and affiliation strategies, geared toward improving the quality or cost-effectiveness of care, as opposed to dominating markets.

"Affiliations that improve value for patients and other care purchasers are likely to be well received," said HFMA president and CEO Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA. "When a merger or acquisition happens for the right reasons, everybody wins." 

Interviews with consultants and provider organizations actively pursuing these strategies revealed several key drivers and defining characteristics of acquisition and affiliation activity in the healthcare provider marketplace today:

  • Key drivers include improving operational efficiencies, creating clinically integrated care delivery networks, and accessing sufficient populations for population health management.
  • Many acquiring organizations are not interested in adding acute inpatient capacity. As a result, the other assets a hospital-based system can bring may be equally or more important than the hospital itself.
  • Financially troubled hospitals are becoming less attractive acquisition targets.
  • For affiliation and acquisition purposes, the distinction between not-for-profit and for-profit status is lessening in importance, although religious affiliations of not-for-profit systems still pose roadblocks for some partnerships.
  • Some organizations are pursuing innovative models that are characterized by the parties involved as combinations rather than mergers.

The research findings are detailed in Acquisition and Affiliation Strategies, which was based on a series of interviews conducted by HFMA in early 2014. Innovative approaches developed by AllSpire Health Partners; Dignity Health; Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin; and Minnesota-based Health Partners and Park Nicollet Health Services are among those profiled in the report. The report also addresses legal and regulatory issues and identifies key considerations for organizations that are considering value-focused strategies for affiliation and acquisition. To download the full report, visit hfma.org/valueproject.

About HFMA

With more than 40,000 members, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is the nation's premier membership organization for healthcare finance leaders. HFMA builds and supports coalitions with other healthcare associations and industry groups to achieve consensus on solutions for the challenges the U.S. healthcare system faces today. Working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, HFMA identifies gaps throughout the healthcare delivery system and bridges them through the establishment and sharing of knowledge and best practices. We help healthcare stakeholders achieve optimal results by creating and providing education, analysis, and practical tools and solutions. Our mission is to lead the financial management of health care. hfma.org

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