Healthcare Consolidation Happens Quickly in Kentucky

Philip Betbeze, December 17, 2010

Experts have been predicting consolidation in the healthcare industry for years, but it's never really happened on the scale the soothsayers anticipated. But now, they may finally be right. I know, it's a little like the boy who cried "wolf" to say that it's different this time, but I believe it, for a variety of reasons. Two announcements that came blowing out of Kentucky last month have convinced me it's for real this time.

Maybe you missed the early signs of a wave of consolidation in healthcare, brought about in large part because of the healthcare reform legislation that passed earlier in the year. I know I missed it initially. During all the craziness surrounding the November elections, it was easy to get distracted.

In this case, it happened in Kentucky, in two separate moves that basically divide the state into two large regional health systems, each with an academic side. Some would take issue with that characterization, but here are the particulars:

  • Lexington-based UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare, the Commonwealth's largest health system, have announced their intent to formalize a longstanding working relationship through an "alliance" to bolstering teaching and clinical programs.
  • The nonprofit companies that operate three of Kentucky's largest hospital networks—Saint Joseph Health Systems, University of Louisville Hospital, and Jewish Hospital—intend to merge under an agreement approved by U of L trustees in November. They hope to complete the merger within a year.
Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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