Ascension Health was formed on November 1, 1999 with the union of the Daughters of Charity National Health System(DCNHS), Sisters of St. Joseph Health System, and the Congregation of St. Joseph. Ascension Health prides itself on basing their services in reverence to Jesus Christ and His willingness to heal the sick, regardless of their financial status. Since its formation, only a short time ago, Ascension Health has been recognized as the United States' largest Catholic healthcare system. This healthcare facility provides services in five hundred locations throughout twenty states and the District of Columbia. In order to understand the charitable foundation of this healthcare system we must examine the origins of the sponsors that comprise Ascension Health. DCNHS, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and the Congregation of St. Joseph all have their roots tracing back to the Catholic Church of 17th century France. These organizations have one common mission; to provide special services to those in need. These services included the establishment of schools, homes for the deaf, orphanages, and healthcare facilities. They ultimately decided to create a foundation in America for their organizations. Once here, they realized the need to expanded their reach to established hospitals throughout the country in response to western settlement. In the 1940s, in order to bring greater efficiencies to their healthcare ministries, the Daughters began integrating their hospitals with one another. This integration eventually led to the formation of what is now known as Ascension Health in late 1999.
The Healthcare Industry's External Environment
All businesses operate within a macro-environment and are influenced by forces that are often outside of their control. These forces can present themselves as either opportunities or as threats to a firm within a given industry. How these businesses respond to these forces can be the determining factor of whether or not they will succeed. The healthcare industry, specifically, is affected by the demographic makeup of the population that it serves, the economy as a whole, technological advancements and their availability, and the political/legal environment. As time goes by, the median age of the U.S. population continues to climb to record highs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age grew from 35.3 to 37.2 over a ten year period and is expected to continue climbing. This has both positive and negative implications to the healthcare industry because as the population ages people will require greater attention being given to their healthcare needs. In regards to the competitive environment in which the healthcare industry operates, an older population means more revenue opportunities will be realized for a given healthcare facility. Also, as the baby boomers are reaching retirement age, they will be covered by government sponsored healthcare benefits. This will lead to healthcare facilities being able to recover a greater percentage of the cost for the healthcare services rendered. On the down side, with this aging population, more medical personnel will be required to cover the increase in demand for medical services needed. Because of this increased demand, there will be a greater need for healthcare professionals to cover this extra workload. However, because the population continues to age, there will be a smaller number of prospects able to meet this increase in demand. Also, as demand for medical services increases, and despite barriers to entry into this industry, a growing number of new entrants will emerge to try and penetrate this growing market. Despite the growing number of new entrants, the healthcare industry is considered to be consolidated and becoming more so every day. The economy as a whole, where the industry resides, will have a direct impact on the capability of an organization to thrive. Currently, the United States is...