- HCA-owned St. David’s HealthCare has acquired Austin Diagnostic Clinic, a group of nine primary and specialty care clinics with 700 employees, the Austin Business Journal reports.
- ADC, with 21 medical specialties, is the region’s second-largest for-profit clinic network with 557,028 patient visits last year — behind only Austin Regional Clinic with 1.1 million visits.
- St. David’s relationship with ADC is not new. Its North Austin Medical Center houses the clinic network’s largest site. Terms of the deal, which closed April 1, were not disclosed.
The acquisition reflects hospitals’ growing focus on low-acuity delivery of care as a future revenue stream. With payers pushing more patients to ambulatory and outpatient settings, inpatient volumes are dropping. That is leading to empty beds and shrinking bottom lines.
Evidence of this trend is everywhere. Last summer, Anthem announced it would stop paying for MRIs and CT scans performed on an outpatient basis at hospitals. More insurers are likely to follow Anthem’s lead. For payers, outpatient settings mean lower costs, while patients like the convenience.
At the same, the emphasis on population health has put a premium on access to primary and specialty care services. Many health systems are looking to build out their access points to capture more patients and drive referrals through urgent care and freestanding emergency units. MedStar Health, for example, has put up 14 urgent care centers in the past five years. “We view [urgent care centers] as access points for us,” Bob Gilbert, president of MedStar Ambulatory Services, told Healthcare Dive last fall.
Health systems are also embracing digital options like telemedicine to drive new revenue steams and increase patient encounters while holding down costs. In a 2017 Reach Health survey, 36% of healthcare systems said their organization has an enterprise approach to telehealth and one-fourth said they are moving in that direction.
One of those is New York-Presbyterian, whose OnDemand suite of digital health services offers telehealth options for routine care, urgent care and pediatric care. The system is also partnering with Walgreens to offer store-based telehealth services.