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The latest AHA trends report: A 'seismic transformation' in care

January 30, 2015

    Clare Rizer, The Daily Briefing

    Every year, the American Hospital Association (AHA) releases trends data on U.S. hospitals and health systems from the past several years. To give you a broad view of the industry, the Daily Briefing team has culled through that data to find out how current trends at hospitals and health systems in the U.S. compare to recent years and identify trends that are likely to impact the industry in the future.

    Here are four key takeaways from the report, which contains data from fiscal year 2013:

    1. The decline of hospital M&A?

    Health care M&A is something the Daily Briefing has been monitoring for some time, but the latest AHA data show that, for the first time since 2009, the number of mergers and acquisitions announced by hospitals has declined, falling from 107 deals in 2012 to 88 in 2013.

    However, the number of hospitals involved in M&A activity has skyrocketed since 2008. In 2013, 283 hospitals participated in some M&A activity, up from 244 the year prior and more than tripling since 2009.

    Will M&A help you create more value or just more size? We've got the answer.

    2. Coordinated care: The way of the future.

    Unsurprisingly, the report found that more hospitals have established programs to coordinate patient care and rely more heavily on quality metrics. In 2014, 20.4% of all U.S. hospitals had implemented a medical home program, compared with just 14.5% three years prior.

    3. 'A seismic transformation': ACO participation jumps.

    Participation in accountable care organizations tripled from 6% in 2011 to 18% in 2013, the report found. In total, the report noted the presence of ACOs in all U.S. states, except for the District of Columbia, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

    Moreover, 31% of hospitals report having contracts with commercial insurers that link reimbursements to quality metrics, according to the report.  

    In the report, Kevin Kenward, research director for AHA's Health Research and Educational Trust, wrote of the trend, "The era of fee-for-service medicine is coming to an end" and the shift towards accountable care reflects a "seismic transformation" in how the industry delivers care.

    4. Admissions...keep on falling.

    Declining hospital admissions are nothing new for hospitals, as rates of inpatient admissions have been steadily declining since 2009. So, it came as no surprise to see that admissions continued dropping for the fifth straight year, this time by 2%, according to the most recent data. Specifically, there were 35.4 million inpatient admissions at U.S. hospitals in 2013, compared with 36.2 million admissions reported in 2012. Meanwhile, outpatient visits jumped 1.2%, to more than 787 million.

    The takeaway: Hospitals are continuing to shift away from fee-for-service, inpatient-drive care. For more, see our full briefing on the care transformation business model.

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