Pricing pressure is driving much of the activity. Increased scale means more leverage with insurance companies and the federal government, better branding and more power in policymaking, said Lyndean Lenhoff Brick, president and CEO of the Advis Group, a healthcare consultancy.
"Merger mania is just widespread," she said. "You're going to see it in every facet of health care. The reason is because there is still such pressure to reduce prices. What you lose in prices, you've got to start picking up in volume and market penetration."
The survey respondents span a cross section of the healthcare industry: providers, pharmaceutical companies, investment firms and other healthcare services companies. Capital One, which defined middle market as companies with annual revenue of $100 million to $3 billion, declined to reveal which companies took the survey. Al Aria, a senior managing director at Capital One Healthcare, said providers made up a solid proportion of those that said they plan to merge or acquire new businesses this year.