November 27, 2015

Why healthcare providers merge?

Scaling Care: An analysis of the structural, social and symbolic dimensions of scale in healthcare

The specific answer to this question depends on the context. However, if you think about the Netherlands, then you'll find the reply in chapter 1 of this book and as a journal article.
Scale is used to achieve political and organizational goals. In these developments, policy makers, executives and other actors have high expectations of the relation between (changes in) scale and positive outcomes, like quality and efficiency of care. To meet the expectations, they ‘upscale’ and ‘downscale’ the organization and provision of care on both organizational and geographical scales. However, the outcomes of these policies and strategies turn out to be uncertain and contested.
The autors conducted a survey with healthcare managers and show their results:
Of the five categories of merger motives, healthcare executives most often mention the category related to healthcare provision (n=107; 69 per cent). This indicates that executives regard merger as an instrument to change the organization and delivery of healthcare services. By realising a broader/more specialized range of services or by providing services to new groups of patients, they seem to aim at attracting new patients and/or offer more or better services to their existing patients. Almost equally frequently mentioned is the category of motives related to strengthening the market or bargaining position.
Sounds obvious. Measurement according to opinions finally get that, opinions. That's why I'm concerned about Delphi questionnaires. The opposite approach is to get data and check the hypothesis. Have a look at this book: Quantitative Techniques for Competition and Antitrust Analysis and you'll understand why this quantitative approach is as relevant as difficult to implement.The final answer is still open for a new estimate and discussion.

PS. What's going on in UK NHS? Peter Roderick gives us some clues. (25 years of marketisation in a short article). More details, here.