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HCA, Cleveland Clinic battle intensifies for Florida market share

A looming battle is heating up for market share on the Atlantic Coast of Florida between two healthcare heavyweights: Cleveland Clinic, an internationally renowned nonprofit, and Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's largest for-profit hospital operators, according to the TCPalm.

Cleveland Clinic's flagship facility in Weston, Fla. already competes against 11 HCA hospitals in South Florida, and the rivalry between the two healthcare giants is expected to intensify when Cleveland Clinic assumes control of two more Florida hospitals.

Although the transactions still need regulatory approval, Cleveland Clinic signed formal agreements in early October to take over Stuart, Fla.-based Martin Health System and Vero Beach, Fla-based Indian River Medical Center. If approved, the transaction would intensify Cleveland Clinic's competition against HCA, which owns Port St. Lucie, Fla.-based St. Lucie Medical Center and Port Pierce, Fla.-based Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute, two full-service hospitals on the Atlantic Coast in Florida, known as the Treasure Coast area. The location is attractive for major healthcare providers because the population is relatively affluent and has many senior citizens.

Cleveland Clinic has pledged to invest $750 million into its two newly integrated facilities over the next decade — setting up a battle with HCA that will likely improve patient care in the region, according to several experts, including Steve Ullmann, PhD, chair of the Department of Health Sector Management and Policy at the University of Miami Business School.

"The HCA hospitals tend to try to maintain their competitive abilities in these different marketplaces. HCA has the money to do that if they find a need to," Dr. Ullman told TCPalm.  "When you have competitive pressures in terms of quality in one institution, it'll put pressure on another institution to enhance their quality as well. For the Treasure Coast, this is probably all good."

Several experts, including Sean Snaith, PhD, and director of Orlando-based University of Florida Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said Cleveland Clinic is a formidable competitor for HCA, because it can bring cutting-edge research and treatment to the patients in the area.

However, the sheer size of HCA — which owns 49 hospitals in Florida alone — gives it the ability to compete with Cleveland Clinic

"They will all strive to improve. It's the nature of competition," Allen Jones, a retired financial adviser for the Indian River Medical Center told TCPalm. "In my opinion, they will fight to maintain market share by concentrating on improving the most profitable lines of business in their individual local hospitals. I expect an attempt to compete on emergency care to try to drain away market share from Cleveland Clinic." 

Beyond the Florida market, competition between HCA and Cleveland Clinic expands as far as London, where HCA owns seven hospitals, and Cleveland Clinic anticipates opening a hospital in 2021.

Read the full report here.

More articles on transactions and valuations:
Saint Peter's HealthCare seeks strategic partner
Breaking through planning and execution paralysis: Executing strategic initiatives during healthcare mergers and acquisitions
CVS Health-Aetna deal OK'd by Justice Department

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