…Or does it drive up costs? The Federal Trade Commission’s research indicates that hospital mergers in concentrated markets can increase prices by over 20 percent. A recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal says:

In fact, there is evidence to suggest that providers can deliver well-coordinated, high-quality care without consolidating. The Intensive Outpatient Care Program, used by employers to help coordinate care for employees with complex chronic conditions, has had positive results. Patients have received better care and required fewer trips to the emergency room.

These successes have been achieved by differently organized physician groups, including small physician practices. The accountable-care-organization movement presents new opportunities for independent physician practices to improve quality outcomes for patients by encouraging other providers to collaborate more with them to improve care.