Emory Healthcare and HCA have decided to stop pretending.
Emory, HCA to end venture
Cultural differences, control cited as obstacles
Tax-exempt Emory and investor-owned HCA said they will end their joint venture operating two hospitals in the Atlanta area. Atlanta-based Emory will buy out HCA's interest in 72-bed Emory Johns Creek (Ga.) Hospital, while Nashville-based HCA will buy out Emory's interest in a 247-bed hospital known as Emory Eastside Medical Center, Snellville, Ga., within a few months. No other terms were disclosed.
Both Emory and HCA declined interview requests. The two systems agreed not to give interviews, an Emory spokesman said.
Emory and HCA might as well end their partnership, because cultural differences stunted the joint venture, said Michael Rovinsky, president of Integrity Consulting Group in Atlanta.
Emory, which owns three hospitals that were never part of the joint venture, is oriented around teaching and research and institutionally it moves slowly and bureaucratically, Rovinsky said. HCA tends to act and react quickly, does not see the teaching and research mission as central to its identity and places a stronger emphasis on financial performance, he said.
As a result, Rovinsky said, Emory physicians never branched out significantly into the facilities that were part of this joint venture at one time or another—eight hospitals and five ambulatory surgery centers when it was announced in 1998 (Nov. 9, 1998, p. 14).
“It doesn't feel like a big deal here, because they never really were visibly or substantially integrated other than the name,” Rovinsky said. “No one ever thought Emory Eastside hospital was an Emory hospital.”
Bill Custer, director of the Center for Health Services Research in the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said differences over quality metrics seem to have played a role, although he said he has no inside information on the situation. Custer noted that the two joint venture hospitals had the lowest quality scores among Emory hospitals.
“Whether it's perceived or actual, I think it was about the loss of control. They didn't want to have to compromise on those quality things,” Custer said of Emory. “I'm sure HCA has those views, too.”
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