Why Nurses Need a Plan B and More in Today’s Healthcare Marketplace
Three events in this past week alone should be ringing some alarm bells to nurses, and I’m not talking about a patient’s call button, I talking about these gargantuan mergers taking place and the continued corporatization of health care.
December 3rd, CVS Health announced a deal to buy Aetna for $69 billion dollars. Now there are rumors of Walmart buying Humana. Four days later, on December 7th was the agreement that merges CHI and Dignity Health into a single Catholic health system comprising 139 hospitals across 28 states with combined revenues of $28.4 billion dollars. Then, four days after that, was the announcement of the planned merger of Ascension and Providence St. Joseph which comprises 191 hospitals across 27 states. According to the Wall Street Journal, if this is successful, the combined organization would surpass the nation’s current largest hospital operator, HCA Healthcare, which owns 177 hospitals and obtained $41.5 billion in revenue at the end of 2016.
Nurses need to understand M&A activity better to know how to prepare best for their own financial security and career viability. Mergers and Acquisitions have a profound effect on hospitals and the healthcare workforce and since nurses comprise the hospital’s largest healthcare profession; they feel these effects the most. Why do companies engage in M&A activity? There are several reasons, here are the most common:
- Become bigger
- Pre-empt competition
- Synergies and economies of scale
- Achieve domination
- Tax purposes
These reasons are fairly obvious in the examples above, however, the ones I think are especially driving healthcare systems today are: to pre-empt competition and synergies and economies of scale. One system perhaps has more ambulatory surgical and out-patient facilities where another has premier neuro and rehab facilities. Instead of competing, by joining forces they can both gain market share and save money. Where there is duplication, and there will be, they can have a reduction in workforce. Which brings me back to why nurses need a plan B and more in today’s healthcare marketplace.
Hospital administrators are doing what they have to do to remain competitive; are you doing what you need to do to remain competitive and marketable? Is your resume updated with current and relevant information? Does it convey the nurse you are? What about the nurse you choose to become? Whether you choose the traditional or non-traditional route, nurses have unlimited options to express their potential.
Nurses have a tremendous cache of knowledge and experience that can be a lucrative source of income in the form of products and services. Books, Audio-Recordings, Presentations, Seminars, Coaching, Advocacy, Consulting, Study-Guides just to name a few. Who better than an OR and PACU nurse to advise patients on surgery, before, during and after? There are hundreds of specialties and options on how nursing knowledge can be developed for additional income streams. Nurses have an advantage in becoming business owners because the nursing process is very similar to creating a business plan. Nurses make great entrepreneurs because they are problem solvers and that is exactly how really successful entrepreneurs describe themselves.
The National Nurses in Business Association is full of entrepreneurial nurses that decided that they wanted more control over their financial destiny. Some of our members still work in hospital settings however they are not dependent on it being their only source of income. Financial advisors tell us that diversification is good for our financial portfolios and not to have all our eggs in one basket. Diversifying our nursing career and creating additional income streams is good for nurses in these times of economic upheaval in the healthcare marketplace.
I heard about CVS Health buying Aetna, but not the other two. Interesting to read this. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but I was thinking maybe this acquisition might create new jobs for nurses. Perhaps even creative jobs along the lines of case management or home health where the nurses teach about chronic conditions, medication compliance, and symptom management to reduce the risk of re-hospitalizations. I totally ‘get’ that companies may merge and acquire with the intention of saving money. However, nurses are the back-bone of healthcare. Often imitated, nurses are never duplicated. Our profession may be ‘imitated’ with unlicensed personnel, but nurses cannot be duplicated with our holistic approach, knowledge, and critical thinking skills required to keep patients healthy and reduce hospital re-admissions.
Thank you for this information! Its always difficult to follow healthcare politics and business and then make sense of it all!