A new study published this week in JAMA Network Open found improved mortality rates across multiple common conditions when compared to equivalent facilities that remained independent (Source: “Rural hospitals saw mortality improvements after acquisition deals, study finds,” Fierce Healthcare, Sept. 21).
“The findings of this study regarding the positive outcomes associated with mergers in rural hospital quality challenge a common argument in prior research that hospital consolidation is likely to result in greater market power and higher prices but poorer quality,” researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and IBM Watson Health wrote in the journal.
The researchers noted that their findings differed from other studies that monitored quality changes following consolidation within urban markets, which found either no change or a decline following hospital acquisition.
The difference, they theorized, could be that rural hospital mergers more often allow these facilities “to improve quality of care through access to needed financial, clinical and technological resources, which is important to enhancing rural health and reducing urban-rural disparities in quality. This hypothesis needs to be assessed using data sources that capture data both on quality and hospital resources,” the researchers wrote.