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VOLUME 50 | NUMBER 4 | AUGUST 2015


Changes in Quality of Health Care Delivery after Vertical Integration

Keywords: Vertical integration; quality of care; provider consolidation

Objectives: To fill an empirical gap in the literature by examining changes in quality of care measures occurring when multispecialty clinic systems were acquired by hospital-owned, vertically integrated health care delivery systems in the Twin Cities area.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Administrative data for health plan enrollees attributed to treatment and control clinic systems, merged with U.S. Census data.

Study Design: We compared changes in quality measures for health plan enrollees in the acquired clinics to enrollees in nine control groups using a differences-in-differences model. Our dataset spans 2 years prior to and 4 years after the acquisitions. We estimated probit models with errors clustered within enrollees.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Data were assembled by the health plan's informatics team.

Principal Findings: Vertical integration is associated with increased rates of colorectal and cervical cancer screening and more appropriate emergency department use. The probability of ambulatory care–sensitive admissions increased when the acquisition caused disruption in admitting patterns.

Conclusions: Moving a clinic system into a vertically integrated delivery system resulted in limited increases in quality of care indicators. Caution is warranted when the acquisition causes disruption in referral patterns.

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