The day of the independent hospital likely is over, according to one healthcare analyst. The merger between Gwinnett Medical Center and Northside Hospital is just the latest announced in a trend that isn’t likely to stop anytime soon, according to David Smith of Kearny Street Consulting.

Regulators must approve the merger, but Smith said that is almost certain to happen.

Smith argued that, unlike other industries, hospital mergers can benefit patients. Insurance companies, not hospitals themselves, are the driving force in setting prices. Because a larger hospital system is more likely to be able to reduce cost through greater efficiency, the larger hospital system will be, in many cases, able to serve patients better by staying in business. 

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