HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that health system expansion efforts in the Charleston, S.C., area will likely lead to increased consolidation among local physician groups. According to the new Charleston Market Overview, health systems will be looking to add physicians to their medical groups to support expansion efforts or partner with physicians on outpatient surgery centers and other facilities.
According to the report, physician groups in the Charleston MSA have traditionally been able to secure state approval for the development of outpatient surgery centers without a hospital partner. However, as hospitals invest millions of dollars in expansion efforts, physician groups will likely face increased opposition to such plans as health systems look to protect their own market share.
"Expansion efforts may result in a more difficult road for physician groups seeking approval to add outpatient services without a hospital partner and will likely be a driving factor for physicians in the Charleston MSA to partner with area health systems," said Dave Raiford, market analyst with HealthLeaders-InterStudy. "Such opposition will be strongest in the fastest-growing, wealthier areas north of the city where health systems are focusing a majority of their expansion efforts."
Southeastern Spine Institute recently faced such a challenge when Roper St. Francis Medical Center opposed an effort by the Institute to obtain state approval for a surgical suite in its Mount Pleasant office. Roper is currently building a new hospital in Mount Pleasant.
"Expansion efforts will likely lead to area health systems requesting, and receiving, improved reimbursements from insurers," noted Raiford. "This is another factor driving health system/physician integration as health systems will want to have a robust physician network in place."
Area Expansion Efforts
In early 2008, the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center, the largest health system in the Charleston MSA, opened the 156-bed Ashley River Tower. Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Trident Health System and East Cooper Regional Medical Center each have new facilities under construction or have submitted plans for future construction.
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