Background: Prior studies have examined the impact of hospital system mergers on health care costs, but few studies have previously examined impact on quality and patient experience.
Study design: Retrospective, difference-in-difference analysis.
Setting: 2,232 U.S. hospitals during 2007-2016.
Synopsis: The authors identified 2,232 hospitals, including 246 hospitals that were acquired between 2009 and 2013 and 1,986 control hospitals that were not acquired during this period. They used a difference-in-difference analysis to compare hospital performance on quality and patient experience measures from before and after an acquisition to concurrent changes in control hospitals. Hospital acquisition was associated with a significant decline in measured patient experience. There was no significant differential change in 30-day readmission or mortality. Although there was an association between acquisition and significant improvement in clinical process metrics, the authors found that this improvement occurred almost entirely prior to acquisition.
Bottom line: Hospital acquisition was associated with worse experience for patients and had no significant impact on readmission or mortality rates.
Citation: Beaulieu ND et al. Changes in quality of care after hospital mergers and acquisitions. N Engl J Med. 2020 Jan 2;382:51-9.
Dr. Midha is a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, instructor of medicine, Boston University, and part-time instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical School, all in Boston.