Investor-owned chains have grabbed headlines for their aggressiveness in pursuing hospital acquisitions, but it's not their only growth strategy. Amid lackluster inpatient volume, the chains are looking for growth in outpatient services too.
Industry executives point to broad trends that are boosting outpatient care, such as the aging population, healthcare reform and medical technology, as well as ways outpatient care can bolster strategies for competing with neighboring hospitals, aligning with physicians and working with payers.
Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp., in particular, has cited outpatient services as an integral part of its strategy for boosting its operating margins to match or exceed its peers' margins. Tenet told investors in January that it spent $65 million acquiring 24 outpatient centers in 2010 and expected to spend up to $100 million acquiring 15 to 25 centers this year (Jan. 17, p. 8).