Charting the consolidation of US healthcare

As much discussion as there’s been about consolidation in the hospital industry recently, there are surprisingly few good sources of data on the scope and scale of multi-hospital systems in the US. One very helpful resource is the Compendium of US Health Systems, a project sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

First launched in 2016, the compendium includes downloadable data on 626 health systems, with information about location, number of beds, number of discharges, and other key characteristics. This spring, AHRQ supplemented the data set with new information about participation in payment reform pilots and provider-sponsored health plan activity. Drawing on this information, we constructed the interactive graphic below—click on the chart or follow this link to explore the data. A few highlights indicate how consolidated the hospital sector has become.

Health systems account for more than 90 percent of all discharges in the US, with the largest 11 systems accounting for a quarter of discharges, and the largest 67 accounting for half. Nonprofit systems dominate the landscape, and many of those are multi-state enterprises. And the trend toward consolidation continues apace. When AHRQ first released the data set in 2016, there were 626 systems on the list; the last two years have seen that number decrease to 591, with several large systems merging together. We’ll continue to mine this rich resource for more insights in the weeks to come.


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