With Memories of the 1990s, Many Hospital Executives Doubt Reform Today

The 1990s still haunt many healthcare executives, as the decade involved large amounts of consolidation and capitation that did not lead to prove to be largely successful, leading many to doubt the principles of healthcare reform today, according to a Wall Street Journal report. 

Paul M. Wiles, CEO of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health, calls the current integration trends "déjà vu." One of Novant's predecessors formed an HMO product in 1986 but sold it by 2001, as it was a "pretty significant distraction" from its "core business" in healthcare.

A professor cited in the report, Lawton R. Burns, PhD, MBA, said hospitals' integration efforts in the 1990s didn't improve quality no reduce costs. "In fact they increased everyone's spending," said Dr. Burns. "Nobody's showed me we're going to do it a whole lot better this time . . . To expect that with one piece of legislation, everyone's going to sit around the campfire and sing kumbaya, forget about it," he said in the report.

Others cited in the report say this time around will be different due to technological and cultural shifts. Electronic health records enable more streamlined information and cost-savings, and physicians are also growing more dissatisfied with private practice.

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