The just-announced acquisition of CRC Health Group by Acadia has been creating buzz across the field over the past few days. With the emergence of several new residential addiction treatment chains in 2014 (many, curiously, based in Brentwood, Tenn.), and more certainly on the way, smaller operators are inevitably asking themselves if they can survive on their own as the field undergoes such unprecedented change and consolidation.
M&A expert Dexter Braff assured my colleague Julie Miller that smaller players need not panic. In fact, savvy owners and operators will use their smaller scale to their advantage by quickly identifying and implementing best care practices to improve outcomes. The time is almost here that no matter what your size, outcomes data will be expected for any reimbursement—private, public or otherwise.
Smaller providers also need to realize that they aren’t doing themselves any favors by clinging to paper. Large chains like Acadia will have to figure out how to implement an EHR platform and other software systemwide—no easy feat—while small operators must replace paper and outdated systems to avoid becoming obsolete. One of our contributors just wrote a piece on how to break up with paper, and our annual IT vendor survey provides a starting point for evaluating your options. New opportunities to improve operations using IT are constantly emerging, such as Advanced Data Systems’ Medics BedManager. Such tools will become increasingly important to enterprises of all sizes.
The CRC – Acadia deal further proves that behavioral health is no longer the stepchild of healthcare. The field’s time has come—and investors are paying attention (witness the recent American Addiction Centers IPO). With the right attitude, and the right tools, everyone in the field will be able to come along for the ride.