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How concentrated is Mass. health market? Now you can take a look.

Posted by John McDonough  May 18, 2013 03:12 PM

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Check out a great new resource on the Massachusetts health care system from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts: the Massachusetts Health Care Delivery System Map. As the state's new Health Policy Commission seeks to get its mind and arms around the issue of market concentration, the Foundation's new site boils the issue down to the key factors in an impressively accessible and compelling way.

For example, if you want to begin to understand why Partners Healthcare is so dominant in the state's healthcare market, don't go to this page, Hospital Systems by Size, on which Partners is #2 after Steward Health Care System.  Go this this page: Physician Networks and Major Medical Groups, where the size of Partners' physician network (called Partners Community Healthcare Inc., PCHI, or "peachy") is larger than #2 (Steward) or #3 (Atrius), combined. 

Or look at hospitals by Net Patient Service Revenue, and see that Partners total NPSR in 2010 ($4.2 billion) was the same as #s 2 (UMass Memorial), 3 (Steward), and 4 (Beth Israel Deaconess) combined.

Don't forget this helpful page of Recent Changes in the Massachusetts health care market.    

I found the page on Inpatient Capacity helpful as well.  Yes, Partners dominates the Boston market, but no other, not even in the Greater Boston market.  Pretty much every region (except for Northeast Mass.) has a single dominant player.  The biggest is UMass Memorial which owns 54% of the inpatient capacity in Central Mass.  If anything, this page helps to understand why inpatient hospital capacity is no longer the essential feature of market dominance that it used to be.  It's about the docs.

So much more to explore in this highly useful and accessible tool as the state debate over cost and market dominance continues.  Kudos to Massachusetts Health Quality Partners which did the legwork on this terrific resource.

And congratulations to the Foundation on choosing a new Executive Director to succeed Sarah Iselin.  Their choice is Audrey Shelto who has been a highly respected professional in government and non-profit health care in Massachusetts for three decades.  An excellent choice to ensure that the Foundation continues its useful and important work for the Massachusetts health system.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

John E. McDonough is a professor of practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011 by More »


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