Ventas Chairman and CEO Debra Cafaro

Long-term care bucked healthcare industry trends with strong merger and acquisition activity in the second quarter, according to newly released data from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The number of long-term care deals increased 20% in the first half of this calendar year, compared to the same period in 2013, PwC investigators found.

“This sector is still leading the health services market in both deal volume and deal value,” the report authors wrote of long-term care. Volume in the second quarter of 2014 was similar to volume from the second quarter of 2013, but the overall value of the deals increased 70%. 

Ventas’ $2.6 billion acquisition of American Realty Capital in June was by far the largest transaction of the quarter in long-term care, PwC noted.

Managed care deals also increased substantially in the first half of 2014, with 13 this year compared with five last year.

But for most healthcare sectors, deal volume was down. The “most notable decreases” were seen in hospitals and behavioral health, with volume dropping by 50% for each sector.

The healthcare arm of the accounting and consulting firm noted that only seven hospital deals took place during the quarter, compared to 22 for a year earlier. But the 68% downturn for hospitals did not represent a specific trend, authors insisted. 

“There are many active discussions across the U.S. regarding consolidations/mergers among hospitals and health systems, which are not reflected in the figures based on the stage of the potential deal,” the report noted. 

Dealmaking activity is being driven in large part by Affordable Care Act provisions encouraging care coordination and population health management, the PwC analysts wrote. This applies to the hospital sector as well.