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An Innovative Acquisition for HCA

by Clive Riddle, March 15, 2019

Nashville-based HCA Healthcare has just announced that HCA will become the majority owner of the parent company of Galen College of Nursing, one of the largest educators of nurses in the nation.  HCA, of course, is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising 185 hospitals and approximately 1,800 sites of care.

The announcement states that “The innovative new strategic partnership brings together two of the top nursing organizations in the country in order to increase access to nursing education and provide career development opportunities in nursing to improve patient care. With 94,000 registered nurses, HCA Healthcare is one of the largest employers of nurses in the country, with nurses holding positions from bedside caregivers in a variety of healthcare settings to leadership positions throughout the organization.”

Hospital funding and partnerships for nursing education certainly isn’t new. For example, here’s a website providing a state-by-state listing of 123 such hospital arrangements, which they acknowledge is only a partial list.

But what is innovative is to move beyond strategic partnerships with an outright acquisition.  Not only does the move create synergy for HCA’s staff career development, it should also serve as a burse recruitment tool for HCA, in an environment where hospitals compete for nursing staffing.

Furthermore, this perhaps signals that healthcare organizations will continue to peek and climb further out-of-the-box with acquisitions beyond traditional M&A of other healthcare providers.  Deloitte, in a discussion of the Health Plan of Tomorrow that is the subject of an upcoming webinar, writes that "buy, share or build? is a question many health plan leaders will face as they begin this transformation journey. And accessing these capabilities may require an industry-agnostic approach. As new players break the rules around who plays what role in the industry, health plans may need to turn to want might today be considered strange bedfellows: competitors, providers, manufacturers, technology companies, transactional sector companies, and/or other industries for answers."

The same holds true for healthcare providers as for health plans.  And so HCA and Galen seem to be pairing up on a transformative journey as well.

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