Oldies not soaking up beds.

A recent MJA report into hospital bed use by older people (over 1993-2002) has shot down the misconception that oldies are using up beds. While those 65 years and older went up 18%, total population increased 10%, and the proportion of hospital beds occupied by oldies stayed at 47%. Figures were skewed at different ages; >75 years had a 89% increase, with length of stay reducing 35%, giving a 23% bed use increase; >75 years had a 10% decline in bed use.

Physios split off.

Twelve LifeCare Physiotherapy clinics in Perth have splintered off to form the ?Active Physiotherapy Group’, after rejecting a franchise model for a new group structure that allows more independence to physio clinic owners. Spokesperson for Active, Suzanne Blunt, said franchisees wanted a more hands-on approach within their personalised, service oriented business and not fork out large franchise fees. Advertising, computer networking, human resources and general marketing initiatives will be in the collective hands of clinic operators. They even have a new logo.

Pass the parcel.

WA’s General Pathology, part of the Gribbles Group, has been taken over by East Coast hospital operator Health Scope Group, which sees Gribbles as a way of expanding into the pathology sector in Australia and overseas. It operates 28 private hospitals. The takeover price of 63c per Gribbles share delivered $121m to former CEO Wallace Cameron for his 43% stake. Gribbles came onto the stock market via an effective reverse takeover of Medical Care Services, formerly Revesco, which in 1999 purchased the pathology assets of Albert Ho’s Advanced Pathology and a number of practices managed by Albert’s Mediplus group. Medical Care Services purchased more practices, mainly in Perth. Like many medical high fliers, Gribbles’ price soared from a corrected ~35c to $1.20. More recently, controversies involving the tax department and ownership of the 43% stake saw the share price fall to 40c before rallying on takeover speculation. The general practices that were part of Gribbles were sold to the National Medical and Imaging Group, which has former senior Endeavour managers and backers involved.

GP software corporate gem.

Sydney-based general practice company Primary Health Care launched a takeover bid for Health Communication Network, the owner of Medical Director software. The offer of $1.75 cash for each HCN share trumped the offer by rival software group IBA. In a market raid Primary snapped up a 19.9% stake prior to launching full takeover and raised $101 million through a share placement to institutions. Primary Health Care’s share price has risen from under $5 to over $8 in 2004. The placement was done at $7.60 and underwritten at $7.40. Primary controls 23 medical centres and has been by far the most profitable of the corporate medical centre groups. Medical Director is used by 16,000 GPs across Australia. Strategically, this allows Primary Health Care to perhaps sell additional services to these GPs. The Board of HCN recommended acceptance of the offer, viewed as friendly, in the absence of a higher bid. (IBA offered no counter bid.)

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