In a move that reflects the industry's urgency to better coordinate care, hospitalist staffing firm and post-acute-care provider IPC Healthcare announced Thursday it has acquired Hospital Medicine Consultants, based in Elgin, Ill.
The hospitalist group will complement IPC's presence in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, IPC said in a press release. The acquisition is expected to add over 20,000 annual encounters on a combined basis, according to a press release announcing the deal. IPC Healthcare is a publicly traded company based in Los Angeles.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is a harbinger of things to come, analysts said.
The healthcare delivery system's network of hospitals, post-acute-care providers and doctors is fragmented, said Brooks O'Neil, senior research analyst at Dougherty & Company. At the same time, cost concerns are encouraging hospitals to discharge patients earlier, and those patients often aren't yet ready to go home, he said.
“Hospitals are scared of readmissions. That's the reality of the healthcare system, and a monumental problem for everyone involved,” O'Neil said.
IPC is trying to streamline that process by providing more care coordination and alignment between hospital-based doctors and physicians in post-acute-care settings, he said.
That approach is a response to the federal push to keep moving forward with bundled payments, O'Neil said. Agreements like the IPC-Hospital Medicine Consultants deal are essential, he said, because there are now financial incentives to connect disparate parts of the system.
“If we can get to a point where communication is seamless, you'll have quicker recovery times and fewer readmissions,” he said.
IPC Healthcare is expected to become part of TeamHealth later this year. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based healthcare staffing firm announced in August that it was paying $1.6 billion for IPC, in a move that experts said was meant to stave off TeamHealth's own acquisition.
Earlier this week, TeamHealth rejected an aggressive proposal from AmSurg Corp. to merge in a $7.8 billion stock-and-cash transaction, which would have created the largest provider of outsourced clinical services to health systems in the country.