HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that Inova Health System continues to dominate the northern Virginia hospital market, though national for-profit hospital HCA is trying to get a foothold into the area. According to the latest Washington, D.C. Market Overview, HCA has twice won state regulatory approval to build in the area only for efforts to be halted by Inova's court appeals.
"Inova currently controls close to two-thirds of the inpatient volume on the Virginia side of the Washington MSA," states Mark Cherry, market analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report. "By merging with independent hospitals - Loudoun Hospital in 2005 and Prince William Hospital in 2006 - Inova has a lock on patient volume in one of the fastest-growing and most affluent areas in the region."
Local observers are weighing the benefits and potential problems of Inova's near-monopoly on the region's healthcare services. Though the nonprofit health system gives a sizable portion of its revenue (about $120 million annually) to uncompensated care and its hospitals are connected to one of the most highly integrated hospital networks in the nation, critics contend that Inova could use its clout to dissuade competition.
HCA has twice won a certificate of need from the state to build a medical center in Ashburn (about five miles south of Inova Loudoun), but Inova has appealed and the matter is in circuit court. In addition, Inova received permission from the state in November 2006 to build an outpatient center in Lorton, the third Inova HealthPlex in the region, and is scheduled for completion in March 2008. At the same time, the state health commissioner denied requests by HCA and a cardiologist group, which both sought permission to build outpatient facilities that were deemed to be too close to existing Inova facilities.
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