In the News: Jan 31–Feb 7

2018 Was Record Year for Health Care Services M&A

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers’s report highlighted in a recent Healthcare Finance article, the volume of health care services mergers and acquisitions (M&A) totaled 1,182 in 2018, up 14.4% from 2017. However, the total value of those deals dropped 31.4% from 2017.

A bulk of the activity (30%) comprised long-term care deals, continuing a trend that began in 2015. Behavioral health saw the largest year-over-year growth in the number of deals (+52.6%) and in value (+141.9%). Although many traditional providers were dominant in the M&A activity, nontraditional providers have begun to enter the market as well, such as Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack and Cigna’s merger with Express Scripts.

Sg2 believes that M&A in in the health care space will continue to grow as strategic partnerships become key to differentiation in an increasingly competitive health care landscape. For more on the trends to look out for in 2019, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar 2019: The Year Ahead.

UCCs Have an Impact on Nonemergent ED Demand

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper analyzed the change in ED utilization by the privately insured population during different times of day in markets with one urgent care center (UCC), more than one UCC and no UCCs. The study findings suggest privately insured people living in markets with more than one UCC have lower nonemergent ED visits when the UCCs are open.

The study found a statistically significant increase in nonemergent ED visits among privately insured people in zip codes with multiple UCCs, when the last UCC closes for the day. No impact on ED use was observed when UCCs are open in the morning, as well as in markets where there is only one UCC present. The authors assert that the effect translates to approximately 2.4 million ED visits per year. Given that only 5% of the 5,000+ zip codes analyzed had more than one UCC, the authors believe there may be further opportunity to increase UCC supply.

As UCC growth continues to accelerate in late-adopter markets, Sg2 expects this growth to continue to shift nonemergent visits away from the ED. To learn other local market factors that will shift nonemergent use of the ED to alternative sites of care, read the Sg2 Expert Insight Sg2 Projects Flattening ED Demand Nationally, Despite Recent Increase in ED Use.

ED Visits for TBIs Increased in Youth, 2001–2009

A recent Modern Healthcare article discusses findings related to long-term damages sustained by sports-related concussions. From 2001 to 2009, ED visits for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) increased among persons aged 19 or younger, with total cost of care reaching $282 billion. Youth aged 10 to 19 are particularly vulnerable, as this cohort comprises 71% of all ED visits for sports-related TBIs.

Pediatric concussion is a growing area of concern in health care, as symptoms can vary in presentation and duration. Reported symptoms in sports-related concussions among high school students include loss of consciousness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and headaches. Studies suggest that most children with mild TBI recover within 6 weeks; however, 60% of adolescents have persistent symptoms one month post injury, and 10% display symptoms 3 months after injury.

Even though concussions account for a large number of ED visits, many pediatric patients do not receive proper treatment and follow-up care. Sg2 believes hospitals and health systems should consider integrating concussion services into their larger sports medicine programs. To learn more about strategic considerations for developing or expanding a concussion program, please see the Sg2 infographic Pediatric Concussion Care and Sports Medicine Programs.

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