Healthcare industry observers say they wouldn't be surprised to see Summa Health System, based in Akron, Ohio, attract interest from regional, state and national players in its search for a partner.
Industry experts named University Hospitals, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Toledo-based ProMedica, Columbus-based OhioHealth and hospital giant HCA Healthcare as possible organizations to work with Summa, which launched its search for a partner at the start of this month.
Short of an outright sale for cash, pretty much all financial arrangements and structures are on the table for Summa as it looks for a partner health system to provide long-term financial stability, advance service offerings and support continued investment in the community's health.
As a wave of health care mergers and acquisitions sweeps the country (just last week, Cleveland Clinic announced it acquired a three-hospital health system and a separate medical center in Florida), news of Summa looking for a partner didn't come a surprise to some.
"Providers are able to enjoy several competitive advantages as a result of aligning with a partner," said Kathryn Hickner, a transactional health care attorney and a partner at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz in Cleveland. "For example, more progressive IT infrastructure, or economies of scale, better negotiating leverage, also stronger systems to bolster coordination of care, and to improve the quality and efficiency of services provided, those are often the reasons why providers align with one another. The bottom line is that providers align with others in order to better position themselves for success under the changing health care reimbursement and delivery regime."