PE-controlled hospitals may have these 5 traits, researchers say

About 130 hospitals in the U.S. were owned by private equity firms in 2018, and they had different characteristics when compared to hospitals not under PE control, according to an observational brief published Sept. 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine

For the brief, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed merger and acquisition reports by Irving Levin Associates and other public information on PE-owned hospitals. The researchers matched hospitals owned by PE firms with similar hospitals that weren’t under PE control. 

Here are five characteristics of PE-owned hospitals the researchers identified:

1. Of the 130 PE-owned hospitals identified, 53 were in the South. Twenty-four were in the West, and 17 were in the Northeast. 

2. On average, PE hospitals were more likely than their non-PE counterparts to be in rural areas and serve a population with a lower median household income.

3. PE hospitals had a slightly lower patient experience score. They also had fewer patient discharges per year and fewer full-time employees per occupied bed. The authors note the measures don’t fully capture quality of care, and the potential effect of PE ownership on quality was outside the scope of the brief.

4. PE hospitals didn’t differ from non-PE hospitals on net income per patient discharged, total inpatient charge per day, total charge-to-cost ratio, or Medicare and Medicaid shares of patients discharged, according to the brief.

5. The researchers said some of the differences identified may be due to PE hospitals being in more rural areas with populations that have different socioeconomic conditions. They said it’s unknown if these characteristics are solely attributable to being acquired by a PE firm.

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