Central Arkansas Medical Centers Collaborate, Compete in Tight Health Care Market

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

Banko said St. Vincent isn’t done expanding. It hopes to work with Conway Regional Medical Center, which announced in October that it would consider affiliating with other hospitals. A Conway Regional spokeswoman recently said nothing has been decided and wouldn’t comment on the talks with other hospitals.

Banko said that partnering with UAMS also would make sense because the hospitals are neighbors “separated by a golf course.”

“We’re always open [to partnership talks],” Banko said. “And in time, you’ll start to see us do things together.”

In an email response last week to follow-up questions about the talks, Banko said, “St. Vincent is focused on building a robust and vibrant statewide network with leading hospitals and physician groups in key markets around the state. We are also engaged in select service line affiliation discussions with local and national health care systems including UAMS.”

Financial Losses

But the expansion moves come at an uncertain time in health care for St. Vincent and other hospitals.

“There’s no question that we’re in a period of disruptive change, which we all have to focus on efficiency and cost reductions,” UAMS’ Rahn said. “And we are anxious to partner with willing parties that help us advance our mission and deliver more value to the public. I think we just have to see how things evolve.”

St. Vincent’s flagship hospital in Little Rock, St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, posted a loss of $39.3 million on net patient revenue of $312.3 million for its fiscal year that ended June 30.

Most of the loss was tied to implementing an electronic medical record system, which cost around $100 million, Banko said. In addition, because of the economy, patients stayed away during parts of the fiscal year, he said.

Added to the financial troubles, hospitals across the country are facing the loss of billions of dollars due to lower reimbursements per patient. To help pay for the Affordable Care Act, the rate of growth in Medicare reimbursements slowed.

Banko said starting in October 2013, St. Vincent missed out on $5 million in Medicare money this fiscal year and that amount will grow to $7 million to $8 million annually during the next three to four years.

Other Little Rock hospitals are also having a tough time. UAMS’ Medical Center reported a loss of $1.6 million for the six-month period between July and December 2013. The same period a year ago, it had a loss of $419,000. Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock reported a loss of $1.8 million in 2012, the most recent figures available to Arkansas Business.



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