May 13—Hospital mergers and acquisitions increased 10 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same timeframe last year, according to a new analysis by Kaufman Hall.

The report by the healthcare consulting firm found that 23 transactions were announced in the first three months of 2014, compared with 21 transactions in first quarter of 2013.

Twenty of the 23 transactions involved acquisitions of not-for-profit organizations. Fifteen of the acquisitions were by other not-for-profit organizations, and five by for-profit organizations.

The findings indicated a continuation of several trends, including increasing numbers of acquisitions. Kaufman Hall found that total hospital and health system combinations increased 3 percent last year to 98 deals.

The new report also was the latest indication that the ongoing acquisitions spike in recent years is primarily occurring among not-for-profit facilities. Eighty-seven of the 98 combinations the consultant identified in 2013 involved acquisitions of not-for-profit organizations.

The report, based on an analysis of Kaufman Hall’s database, included mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and member substitutions. It did not include specialty hospital, long-term acute-care hospital, or surgical center transactions; minor asset sales from closed hospitals; affiliations or management service agreements; or international transactions.

Contrary Findings

The findings appeared to run counter to a recent finding from Irving Levin Associates that hospital deals dropped nearly 22 percent in 2013. That annual report found the number of hospital transactions declined in 2013, although the number of hospitals and hospital beds involved in those transactions hit a five-year high on the strength of the acquisition of Health Management Associates by Community Health Systems and the sale of Vanguard Health Systems to Tenet Healthcare.

The Levin report found that the two large deals drove for-profit facilities to comprise a much larger than normal share of total deals last year.

Overall, healthcare merger-and-acquisition activity increased slightly in 2013, based on the total spent, although the number of transactions declined by 5.8 percent to 598 publicly announced healthcare services mergers and acquisitions, Levin found. Across nine healthcare service sectors, the number of acquisitions decreased in all but the long-term care and home health/hospice sectors, which had a 20 percent increase in transaction volume. 

Rich Daly is a senior writer/editor in HFMA’s Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter @rdalyhealthcar 

Publication Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2014