Industry expert: Patients come out on top if IU Health enters market

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Is a major hospital network ready to jump into a market with major changes on the horizon? Sources say yes— Indiana University Health is planning to build a facility in Fort Wayne.

“I think they see a weakness,” Bloomberg News Detroit Bureau Chief David Welch said.

Welch has had his eye on the Fort Wayne healthcare market. He recently co-authored a large and detailed report about Lutheran Health Network’s parent company Community Health Systems. He too has been hearing the reports of IU Health moving to Fort Wayne.

“We had heard both that they were either contemplating entering the market and opening a hospital,” Welch said. “There were other ideas thrown around that they would acquire somebody else’s facility. But they were definitely taking a look at getting into Fort Wayne.”

It’s been a changing year in the Fort Wayne healthcare market– the market that employs the most people in Allen County. Everyone is expanding. Parkview is adding 300 jobs, and construction on a new cancer facility is underway.

In May, CHS announced it would reinvest $500 million in Lutheran, and last month it announced it would build a new Downtown hospital.

However, Welch said IU Health may see Lutheran as a weakness.

“They see a hospital system that’s been in trouble,” Welch said. “The doctors wanted to buy it out. There are reports of the financials getting worse, revenue being down. If revenue is down patient flow is down. They’ve probably read reports of some of the big employers considering moving their health plans to Parkview. They thought hey here’s another chance for us to get in, and offer another alternative.”

A weakness or not three networks will be working hard to attract Fort Wayne consumers.

“In terms of pricing competition is usually good,” Welch said. “You have three major players in there, and they’re all trying to get patients to come in. Maybe they’ll start cutting better deals.”

Sources say former Lutheran CEO Brian Bauer has been working with IU Health on the project. Bauer was fired in June after physicians offered CHS a multi-billion dollar buyout and were rejected.

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