HealthDay News — Private equity ownership of health care operations is associated with increases in costs to patients and decreases in quality of care, according to a review published online July 19 in The BMJ.
Alexander Borsa, from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies assessing trends and impacts of private equity ownership of health care operators.
Based on 55 included studies, the researchers found that the United States was the most studied country (47 of 55 studies) and that nursing homes were the most studied setting (17 studies), followed by hospitals and dermatology settings (nine studies each). Consistently, private equity ownership was associated with increases in costs to patients or payers. Impacts on quality were mixed to harmful, with consistent findings in sensitivity analyses limited to studies with a moderate risk for bias. The volume of studies was insufficient to assess impact of private equity ownership on health outcomes and costs to operators. There was an association observed between private equity ownership and reduced nurse staffing levels or a shift toward lower nursing skill mix. There were no consistent beneficial impacts of private equity ownership seen.
“The current body of evidence is robust enough to confirm that private equity ownership is a consequential and increasingly prominent element in health care, warranting surveillance, reporting, and possibly increased regulation,” the authors write.