Imagine a high-stakes Monopoly game between Richard Scott, Charles Martin and R. Clayton McWhorter. The three are the top executives of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., OrNda Healthcorp and HealthTrust-The Hospital Co., respectively.
Mr. Scott has neatly lined up 197 hospital properties on his side of the board.
Mr. Martin will have accumulated 47 hospital properties when OrNda's merger with Summit Health and American Healthcare Management is completed in May.
Mr. McWhorter will have collected 115 hospitals when his acquisition of EpicHealth Group is completed next month.
All of the players have properties that don't really fit well into their networks or strategies. A Marvin Gardens here, a St. Charles Place there. So, what do most Monopoly players do once they've amassed a certain number of unrelated properties? They start swapping.
Many observers are speculating some dealing will take place among these three hospital giants by this summer.
In recent interviews with MODERN HEALTHCARE in Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Martin and Mr. McWhorter acknowledged that such deals could take place. "It's logical. I think there will be a few swaps," Mr. Martin said.
"I will tell you it makes sense," said Mr. McWhorter, adding that the swap meet could include American Medical International, a Dallas-based chain of 36 hospitals. "I do see some of that occurring sometime during 1994," Mr. McWhorter said.
Better watch out, though. The feds might get involved if they hear companies are playing something comparable to "monopoly."
French connection.As American suppliers look abroad to offset a reform-chilled U.S. marketplace, the French are trying to lure their dollars.
A conference in Minneapolis this week will display the wares of 18 French medical-technology companies and the temptations of four French regions. Bigwigs from France's Ministry of Health and some of its hospitals will be on site to tout the joys of working abroad. Their objectives: entice U.S. companies to partner with French firms, to conduct research in France and to set up European offices there.
"While the French region of Marseilles-Provence evokes images of the Mediterranean, with its sun-drenched groves of fruit and olive trees, this area...offers medical enterprises more than pretty beaches and tempting gastronomy," one publicity statement reads. Home to universities, medical centers and several medical-device makers, the region, in southern France, is "a treasure trove" of artistic and cultural events. Moreover, candy giant Nestle has facilities nearby. Stop...Outliers is in love.
The Perot plan.At a meeting of the American College of Cardiology last week in Atlanta, erstwhile presidential candidate Ross Perot unveiled his new healthcare reform plan.
Well, sort of.
Actually what he unveiled was a new slogan called "Put Patients First" and some sketchy goals including holding down costs and reducing paperwork.
Mr. Perot told the cardiologists that he would rely on physicians to shape his plan and then asked them to send him $1,000 each, which he said he would match with $1 million of his own money. He said most of the funds would go toward television advertising to promote his plan.
Mr. Perot also took several swipes at the Clinton reform plan, calling it too complicated and too expensive.
A spokeswoman for the ACC said the group was not endorsing Mr. Perot or his plan, but the group had received "a few calls from members asking for more information."
Going through the motions. Borrowing from a discipline that dates back some 5,000 years, a program housed at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Ill., is finding great success in treating chronic back pain using movements that are part of the martial arts.
The Alt-Med Back Pain Program, which began last October, is run by Patrick Massey, M.D., an internist and a black belt in the Chung Moo style of martial arts, which combines eight different arts.
"Many movements in martial arts were initially developed to improve health and strengthen the body," Dr. Massey said. "Only later were they discovered to be effective in self-defense."
Patients are given an initial evaluation and then are taught movements specific to their condition and body type. They practice the movements for 10 minutes twice a day and return for a follow-up exam after two weeks and again after six weeks. Benefits are usually felt after the first few days of practice, Dr. Massey said. Most are pain-free within a month.
Dr. Massey said the success rate in treating patients who haven't had back surgery is almost 100%, while 75% of those who've had one surgery have become pain-free. He said where the program is falling short is when patients have had multiple surgeries. But he believes surgery can be prevented by early intervention through the program. In fact, he cited cases where patients who were turned down for surgery because of the severity of their condition became pain-free through use of the martial arts movements.
"This is not jumping, kicking and breaking boards. Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris represent a very small percentage of what the martial arts are all about," Dr. Massey said.
Quotable."Non-taxpaying hospitals shouldn't be in business. They're not good corporate citizens."
-Richard Scott, president and CEO of Columbia/HCA, as reported in the Washington Post. A Columbia/HCA spokeswoman said Mr. Scott's comment was in response to a question on what he believed should happen to tax-exempt hospitals if health reform includes payment for indigent care.