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December 06, 2012 12:15 PM The Health Care Delivery System Is Changing

By Austin Frakt

I made the point to somebody-or-other recently that the health care delivery system is already undergoing big change. My point was that it may be premature to layer even more of the same on top of what’s already in the works. It might even be necessary to slow things down, maybe.

Today, long-time reader Steve S emailed me:

I have no idea what your exposure is to retail medicine, I just thought I would pass along info that I suspect you know anyway, but may not be aware of the urgency with which people in private practice are approaching the issue. Consolidations and mergers, getting bigger, seems to be a topic broached at almost every major meeting. Our network has brought in consultants who are telling us that networks/hospitals with less that $3 billion-$5 billion in revenue will be unable to survive. Hospital administrators are also obsessing over the cutbacks they are already facing from the ACA, or perceived changes that are coming. I will have to say that this is the first time 40 years in medicine that I think I see people really serious about cutting costs. I am still not sure if this is all due to the ACA or just concerns about the ACA, but its passage and coming full implementation has stirred things up.

Is this just what consultants are saying to drum up business, or are we really seeing unusually large shifts in the health system? From my perch, I can’t tell. But some of you work closer to the sharp end. What’s your take?

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Austin Frakt is a health economist and an assistant professor at Boston University's School of Medicine and School of Public Health. He blogs at The Incidental Economist.