HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, reports that, while Bon Secours Richmond Health System has focused on expanding services outside Richmond in central Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System has embarked on a plan to rejuvenate much of its downtown health center and medical campus. According to the latest issue of the Richmond Market Overview, the first phase of VCU's renovation, an emergency-care facility, will be complete in 2007, while the full renovation will last until 2020.
"In an era of increasing uninsured populations in many downtown areas, the most common approach for hospital system expansion is to move into the more-profitable suburbs," said Patrick Powers, HealthLeaders-InterStudy senior analyst. "By building St. Francis Medical Center in Midlothian, Bon Secours is competing directly with market leader HCA Richmond Hospitals' largest hospital, CJW Medical Center. By expanding its inner-city operations, VCU will take on more than its share of uninsured patients, seemingly at a financial risk. But if the downtown Richmond revival continues, VCU will have a dominant position in what might ultimately become a profitable market."
HCA Richmond Hospitals, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System together account for 91 percent of the inpatient market.
As more health systems expand their services to the suburban portions of central Virginia, residents and businesses can expect increased market competition. This could exert downward pressure on prices, especially as insurers seek to contain costs. Additional treatment facilities and outpatient services are a likely next step for suburban growth, with cancer centers, cardiac units and stroke-treatment facilities offering the possibility of increased profits.
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