Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: "We Don't Need 5,000 Hospitals"

Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, former health policy adviser to the Obama administration, said the future of healthcare is one with fewer hospitals and one with traditional health insurers replaced by accountable care organizations, according to a Daily Princetonian report.

Dr. Emanuel made the comment earlier this week at Princeton (N.J.) University, according to the report. Dr. Emanuel, an oncologist, is now chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

He voiced his prediction that a number of hospitals will have to close after the healthcare system restructures itself in a more efficient way. Dr. Emanuel said jobs would be shifted and redeployed in different capacities, but not eliminated.

"Hospitals are a grossly inefficient way of providing jobs," he said. "We don’t need 5,000 hospitals."

He also said ACOs are cutting out the healthcare companies and profiting middlemen that impose administrative burdens, according to the report. He also said the distinction between ACOs and insurers isn't a permanent one.

"They have to figure out how to deliver more efficient aid in a coordinated way," Dr. Emanuel said, according to the report. "The one thing they lack to be listed on the [healthcare exchange market] is the financial risk management of insurance companies. But that can be bought."

As a result, health insurance companies will either have to move into risk management or become integrated delivery systems through consolidation with a provider. "I do believe that the health insurance companies that we all love to hate are going away," he said.

The lecture was based on Dr. Emanuel's new book, "Reinventing American Healthcare."

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