Vital Signs

A Look Ahead

The past year was filled with compelling local healthcare business stories, both good and bad. We had acquisitions, expansions, bankruptcies, layoffs and a whole lot of movement (including some running in place) to comply with the mandates of healthcare reform.

Looking ahead, several stories that began unfolding in 2010 should prove interesting in the next 12 months. Here are a few to watch:

 

1. The Nashville Medical Trade Center

Will the $250 million, first-of-its-kind medical trade center planned for downtown Nashville actually materialize in 2013? Or ever?

The 1.5-million-square-foot project needs to have more than 60 percent of its planned space leased before it can secure financing. Through mid-December, there had been only two tenant announcements — neither of which was the kind of big-ticket corporation the developer has said it needs for a successful mart. Hence, the construction that was supposed to start in late 2010 obviously did not.

We may soon see a quick flurry of tenant announcements to get the project back on pace. Or there may be more radio silence — followed by a pushing-back or scaling-down of the development.

 

2. HCA’s Initial Public Offering

Since HCA filed in May for a $4 billion-plus initial public offering, there’s been plenty of speculation about the timing of the mammoth hospital operator’s return to the public market. Poor market conditions and the unimpressive dynamics plaguing its publicly traded peers — soft volumes, still-rising levels of uninsured patients and reimbursement pressures — benched the deal in 2010.

Industry watchers now expect HCA to go public later this year at the earliest. When it does, expect the entire sector to get a lift.

 

3. Joey Jacobs’ Whereabouts

Universal Health Services’ acquisition of Psychiatric Solutions in 2010 got big coverage not only because of its size — more than $3 billion — but also because it was exactly the kind of deal the Franklin company’s management wasn’t looking for. A purchase by a private-equity firm like Bain Capital, which Psych Solutions was reportedly planning, would have kept top execs in their place. Now CEO Joey Jacobs and his top brass are out of work.

Though they got enough money out of the deal to remain voluntarily unemployed for a good long while — or forever — there’s a buzz about town that Jacobs will emerge soon with a new venture.