Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Emergency Care, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions, Primary Care / 03.10.2017 Interview with: Roberta Capp MD Assistant Professor Director for Care Transitions in the Department of Emergency Medicine University of Colorado School of Medicine Medical Director of Colorado Access Medicaid Aurora Colorado What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Medicaid clients are at highest risk for utilizing the hospital system due to barriers in accessing outpatient services and social determinants. We have found that providing care management services improves primary care utilization, which leads to better chronic disease management and reductions in emergency department use and hospital admissions. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions / 02.10.2017 Interview with: Dr. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, MD Physician at University Health Network Department of Medicine University of Toronto What is the background for this study? Response: Readmissions after hospital discharge are common and costly. We would like to reduce these as much as possible. Early physician follow-up post hospital discharge is one possible strategy to reduce readmissions. To this end, incentives to outpatient physicians for early follow-up have been introduced in the U.S. and Canada. We studied the effect of such an incentive, introduced to Ontario, Canada, in 2006. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Johns Hopkins / 01.02.2017 Interview with: Chester G. Chambers, Ph.D. Director, Enterprise Risk Management Program, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Joint Appointment in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine Maqbool Dada, Ph.D. Joint Appointment in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine John Hopkins Medicine Kayode Ayodele Williams, M.B.A., M.B.B.S., M.D Medical Director : Blaustein Pain Treatment Center Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine John Hopkins Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The result is based on a retrospective analysis of three specialty clinics in the Johns Hopkins System: a private practice low-volume clinic with one physician and no residents; a medium volume clinic that used one attending physician for each clinic session and included residents; and a high-volume clinic with multiple attending physicians and several residents. Our main finding is that physicians adjust face time based on congestion in the clinic, and seem to do this without always knowing they are doing it. Patients who arrive early and whose service begins before their appointment times, tend to get more face-time then other patients. This is similar to other service systems in which first-line providers speed-up when they see long queues at their stations.This is important because most of the prior research in this setting assumed that this never takes place. We verified that it does happen in multiple settings and the changes in processing rates are statistically significant. This means we need to rethink many earlier conclusions about how clinics run. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Health Care Systems, University of Pittsburgh / 12.12.2016 Interview with: Joshua M. Thorpe, PhD, MPH From the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy What is the background for this study? Response: Care coordination for persons with dementia is challenging for health care systems under the best of circumstances. These coordination challenges are exacerbated in Medicare-eligible veterans who receive care through both Medicare and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Recent Medicare and VA policy changes (e.g., Medicare Part D, Veteran’s Choice Act) expand veterans’ access to providers outside the VA. While access to care may be improved, seeking care across multiple health systems may disrupt care coordination and increase the risk of unsafe prescribing - particularly in veterans with dementia. To see how expanded access to care outside the VA might influence medication safety for veterans with dementia, we studied prescribing safety in Veterans who qualified for prescriptions through the VA as well as through the Medicare Part D drug benefit. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems / 25.10.2016 Interview with: Julie M. Kapp, MPH, PhD, FACE Associate Professor 2014 Baldrige Executive Fellow University of Missouri School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Informatics Columbia, MO 65212 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The United States lags behind its high-income peer countries on a number of critical health outcomes, including life expectancy, and this gap has been widening for the last several decades. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a number of provisions to try to address this, including an emphasis on a systems-engineering approach to health care services. In addition to the ACA, there is a growing movement toward collective impact among community-based organizations. However, despite this focus, U.S. health and health care activities are often uncoordinated and fragmented. We applied a systems-thinking approach to U.S. population health. We used the Malcolm Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence as the unifying conceptual systems-thinking approach. In addition to this proposed framework, we make two critical recommendations: 1) the need to drive a strategic outcomes-oriented, rather than action-oriented, approach by creating an evidence-based national reporting dashboard; and 2) improve the operational effectiveness of the workforce. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Lancet, Mayo Clinic / 03.10.2016 Interview with: Colin P. West, MD, PhD, FACP Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Biomedical Statistics and Informatics Departments of Internal Medicine and Health Sciences Research Mayo Clinic What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Physician burnout has reached epidemic levels, as documented in national studies of both physicians in training and practicing physicians demonstrating burnout rates in excess of 50%. Consequences include negative effects on patient care, professionalism, physicians’ own care and safety, and the viability of health-care systems. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to better understand the quality and outcomes of the literature on approaches to prevent and reduce burnout. We identified 2617 articles, of which 15 randomized trials including 716 physicians and 37 cohort studies including 2914 physicians met inclusion criteria. Across interventions, overall burnout rates decreased from 54% to 44%, emotional exhaustion score decreased from 23.82 points to 21.17 points, and depersonalization score decreased from 9.05 to 8.41. High emotional exhaustion rates decreased from 38% to 24% and high depersonalization rates decreased from 38% to 34%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, CT Scanning, Health Care Systems / 23.09.2016 Interview with: Hui Zhang, Ph.D., MBA Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: To promote healthcare coordination and contain the rising costs in the US healthcare system, a variety of payment innovations has been developed and field-tested in both public and private sector. Among them, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has received considerable attention. Our study took a mathematical modeling approach and comprehensively captured and analyzed the effect of this new payment systems on healthcare stakeholder decisions and system-wide outcomes. Our results provided decision-making insights for payers on how to improve MSSP, for ACOs on how to distribute MSSP incentives among their members, and for hospitals on whether to invest in new CT imaging systems. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA / 14.09.2016 Interview with: Gillian D. Sanders-Schmidler Ph.D. Professor of Medicine Duke Evidence Synthesis Group, Director Duke Evidence-based Practice Center, Director Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University What is the background for this study? Response: In 1996, the original panel on cost effectiveness in health and medicine published recommendations for the use of cost effectiveness analysis. During the 20 years since the original panel’s report, the field of cost-effectiveness analysis has advanced in important ways and the need to deliver health care efficiently has only grown. In 2012 the Second Panel on Cost Effectiveness in health and Medicine was formed with a goal of reviewing and updating the recommendations. This paper summarizes those recommendations. This process provided an opportunity for the Panel to reflect on the evolution of cost-effectiveness analysis and to provide guidance for the next generation of practitioners and consumers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems / 11.09.2016 Interview with: Peter Muennig, MD, MPH Associate Professor Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University New York, NY 10032 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We looked that the supplemental Earned Income Tax Credit ( EITC ) programs offered by states to determine whether they have health impacts or not. We found that, on average, folks who live in states that offer supplemental EITC showed improvements in health after EITC was implemented. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, JAMA / 09.09.2016 Interview with: Andrew C. Eppstein, MD, FACS Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center Indianapolis, Indiana What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A few years ago we encountered long wait times for patients undergoing elective general surgery in our tertiary care VA medical center. Demand had grown and our existing systems were not able to accommodate surgical patients in a timely fashion. By fiscal year (FY) 2012, our wait times averaged 33 days, though patients with malignancies would be moved to the head of the line, pushing more elective cases further back. To address rising demand and worsening wait times, our Surgery Service convened an analysis of our processes using Lean methodology in collaboration with the Systems Redesign Service. Multidisciplinary meetings were held in 2013 to analyze inefficiencies in the current system and ways to address them to create a streamlined, ideal system. The collaborations included surgeons, nurses, ancillary staff, operating room and sterile processing staff, and hospital administration. Projects were rolled out stepwise in mid-2013 under General Surgery, the busiest surgical service at our institution. We noted a sharp decline in patient wait times after initiation of reforms such as improved OR flexibility, scheduling process changes, standardization of work within the department, and improved communication practices. These wait times dropped to 26 days in FY 2013 and further to 12 days in FY 2014, while operating volume and overall outpatient evaluations increased, with decreased no-shows to clinic. Our decreased wait times were sustained through the remainder of the observed period. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Diabetes, Health Care Systems, Heart Disease / 02.09.2016 Interview with: Salim S. Virani, MD, PhD and Julia Akeroyd MPH Health Services Research and Development Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center Houston What is the background for this study? Response: Given the increase in the number of Americans seeking primary health care due to the Affordable Care Act, combined with current and anticipated physician shortages in the US, there is a growing need to identify other models of primary care delivery to address chronic diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Surgical Research / 28.07.2016 Interview with: Richard Hoehn, MD Resident in General Surgery College of Medicine University of Cincinnati What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A recent study from our research group (Hoehn et al, JAMA Surgery, 2015) found that safety-net hospitals perform complex surgery with higher costs compared to other hospitals, and that these higher costs are potentially due to intrinsic differences in hospital performance. In this analysis, we decided to simulate different policy initiatives that attempt to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals. Using a decision analytic model, we analyzed pancreaticoduodenectomy performed at academic hospitals in the US and tried to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals by either 1) reducing their mortality, 2) reducing their patients’ comorbidities and complications, or 3) sending their patients to non-safety-net hospitals for their surgery. While reducing mortality had a negligible impact on cost and reducing comorbidities/complications had a noticeable impact on cost, far and away the most successful way to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals, based on our model, was to send patients away from safety-net hospitals for their pancreaticoduodenectomy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Stroke / 25.07.2016 Interview with: Kimon Bekelis, MD Chief Resident Department of Neurosurgery Dartmouth-Hitchcock School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: Physicians often must decide whether to treat acute stroke patients locally, or refer them to a more distant Primary Stroke Center (PSC). There is little evidence on how much the increased risk of prolonged travel time offsets benefits of specialized  Primary Stroke Center care. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems / 21.07.2016 Interview with: Alex Mainor, JD, MPH Research Project Coordinator The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice Lebanon, NH 03756 Carrie H. Colla, Alexander J. Mainor, Courtney Hargreaves, Thomas Sequist, Nancy Morden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Waste in the healthcare system is an important concern to healthcare providers, patients, policymakers, and taxpayers, and is estimated to account for 30% of all healthcare costs. Low-value care can expose patients to unnecessary costs for little or no medical benefit, or to potential harm from unnecessary tests and procedures. In recent years, the concept of low-value care has gained wider acknowledgement and acceptance as a pressing concern for the healthcare system, and many interventions have been studied to reduce the use of this wasteful care. However, the landscape of these interventions has not been studied in a systematic and comprehensive way. In this review, we found that interventions to reduce the use of wasteful medical care are often studied and published selectively. Findings suggest that interventions using clinical decision support, clinician education, patient education, and interventions combining elements from each have strong potential to reduce low-value care. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions / 20.07.2016 Interview with: Thomas P. Meehan, MD, MPH Associate Medical Director Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Qualidigm, Wethersfield Quinnipiac University, North Haven CT What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a national effort to decrease preventable hospital readmissions in order to improve both the quality and cost of healthcare. Part of this national effort includes local quality improvement projects which are organized and conducted by a variety of organizations working by themselves or with others. We describe one statewide quality improvement project which was led by a Medicare-funded Quality Improvement Organization and conducted with a hospital association and many other collaborators. We document our activities and a relative decrease in the statewide 30-day aggregate readmission rate among fee-for service Medicare beneficiaries of 20.3% over four and a half years. While we are extremely proud of our work and this outcome, we recognize that there are many factors that impacted the outcome and that we can’t claim sole credit. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety / 15.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce, MD PhD Cardiothoracic surgeon Associate professor of surgery and assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Columbus, OH What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Crew Resource Management (CRM), a training for all health care providers, including doctors, nurses, staff and students, focusing on team communication, leadership, and decision-making practices, was implemented throughout a large academic health system - across eight departments spanning three hospitals and two campuses. All those in the health system, inclusive of those that took the training, took a survey measuring perceptions of workplace patient safety culture both before CRM implementation and about 2 years after. Safety culture was significantly improved after Crew Resource Management training, with the strongest effects in participant perception of teamwork and communication. This study was the first health-system wide CRM implementation reported in the literature. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA / 11.07.2016 Interview with: Laura B. Vater, MPH MD Candidate 2017 Indiana University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: In the United States, cancer center advertisements are common. Previous research has shown that these ads use emotion-based techniques to influence viewers and omit information about benefits, risks, and costs of cancer treatment. There is a concern that cancer center advertising may increase demand for unnecessary tests and treatments, increase healthcare costs, and provide unrealistic expectations about the benefits of cancer treatment. In this study, we examined cancer center advertising spending from 2005 to 2014, with particular attention to trends within media (television networks, magazines, newspapers, radio stations, billboards, and the Internet) and by target audience (national versus local). (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions, Yale / 09.07.2016 Interview with: Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, MBA Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) Cardiovascular Medicine: Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation (CORE) Yale School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Programs from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services simultaneously promote strategies to lower hospital admissions and readmissions. However, there is concern that hospitals in communities that successfully reduce admissions may be penalized, as patients that are ultimately hospitalized may be sicker and at higher risk of readmission. We therefore examined the relationship between changes from 2010 to 2013 in admission rates and thirty-day readmission rates for elderly Medicare beneficiaries. We found that communities with the greatest decline in admission rates also had the greatest decline in thirty-day readmission rates, even though hospitalized patients did grow sicker as admission rates declined. The relationship between changing admission and readmission rates persisted in models that measured observed readmission rates, risk-standardized readmission rates, and the combined rate of readmission and death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems / 20.06.2016 Interview with: Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc Clinical Lecturer in Internal Medicine University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine North Campus Research Complex, Bldg 16, Rm 472C Ann Arbor, MI What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tipirneni: One year after Medicaid expansion in Michigan, 600,000 individuals had enrolled in the program and there was concern that new enrollees would crowd doctor’s offices and new patients would not be able to get an appointment. We found that the opposite occurred – primary care appointment availability for new Medicaid patients increased. This study builds on a previous study looking at what happened in the first four months after Medicaid expansion. In the earlier study, we found that appointment availability for new Medicaid patients had increased in the first few months after expansion. Even though the number of enrollees in the Medicaid expansion program doubled since then, the new study found that appointment availability remained increased for new Medicaid patients one year after expansion. (more…)
Author Interviews, Global Health, Health Care Systems / 07.06.2016 Interview with: Yan Alicia Hong, Ph.D. Associate Professor Dept of Health Promotion & Community Health Sciences School of Public Health Texas A&M Health Science Center College Station, TX, 77843 What is the background for this study and discussion? What are the main findings? Dr. Hong: Medical tourism has grown rapidly in the past decade, as Internet has greatly facilitated information sharing. A 2013 online survey from US reported that 27% of patients had engaged in some form of medical tourism. The global market of medical tourism is estimated at $439 billion. Traditionally, medical tourists travel from high-income countries to middle- and low-income countries to seek comparable or identical care at a lower price. But in recent years, more and more patients from middle- and low-income countries travel to the high-income countries for better diagnostic capabilities, state-of-the-art medical technologies, and advanced treatment options that may not be available in their home countries. I wrote up this article in response to the opening of a Chinese-American Physicians E-Hospital, a new online service to facilitate Chinese patients seeking medical care in U.S.. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems / 06.06.2016 Interview with: Myra Norton President and COO of Pegged Software editor’s note: As part of an ongoing series on changes in the health care landscape, we interviewed Ms. Myra Norton, President and COO of Pegged Software. Pegged Software uses an advanced "analytics engine to selecting job candidates based on the actual determinants of high performance", specifically in the health care field. Ms. Norton has a special interest in gender and hospital hiring practices. Given that women earn 78 cents to the dollar in regards to men, can big data improve this pay inequity? If so, how does this happen? Ms. Norton: Big data and predictive analytics alone will not solve the problem of pay inequality. What these tools can do is illuminate talent in a way that removes the biases that undermine equality across gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other dimensions. For example, predictive analytics allows organizations to identify candidates with the highest likelihood of improving patient experience, being retained, remaining an engaged employee, lowering thirty day readmissions, and positively impacting other organizational outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, Hand Washing, Health Care Systems, JAMA, UCSF / 07.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Andrew Auerbach MD Professor of Medicine in Residence Director of Research Division of Hospital Medicine UCSF and Jeffrey L. Schnipper, MD, MPH Associate Physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Department of Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: The Affordable Care Act required the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reduce what has been dubbed a “revolving door of re-hospitalizations.” Effective October 2012, 1 percent of every Medicare payment was deducted for a hospital that was determined to have excessive readmissions. This percentage has subsequently increased to up to 3 percent. Penalties apply to readmitted Medicare patients with some heart conditions, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and hip and knee replacements. Unfortunately, few data exist to guide us in determining how many readmissions are preventable, and in those cases how they might have been prevented. What are the main findings? Response: Our main findings were that 27 percent of readmissions were preventable, and that the most common contributors to readmission were being discharged too soon, poor coordination between inpatient and outpatient care providers, particularly in the Emergency Departments and in arranging post acute care. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 29.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Alisa Khan, MD MPH Division of General Pediatrics Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Khan: Medical errors, or mistakes in the process of caring for patients, occur frequently. While methods of detecting errors have improved, parents and families are not typically included in routine hospital safety monitoring systems. We found that nearly 1 in 11 parents reported their child had experienced a safety incident during hospitalization. Most of these reports were confirmed to be medical errors when reviewed by physicians, and many were not otherwise documented in the patient’s medical record. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions, Technology / 25.02.2016 Interview with: Andrey Ostrovsky, MD CEO | Co-Founder Care at Hand  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Ostrovsky: Hospital readmissions are a large source of wasteful healthcare spending, and current care transition models are too expensive to be sustainable. One way to circumvent cost-prohibitive care transition programs is complement nurse-staffed care transition programs with those staffed by less expensive nonmedical workers. A major barrier to utilizing nonmedical workers is determining the appropriate time to escalate care to a clinician with a wider scope of practice. The objective of this study is to show how mobile technology can use the observations of nonmedical workers to stratify patients on the basis of their hospital readmission risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Health Care Systems, Women's Heart Health / 22.02.2016 Interview with: Professor Robyn Norton Principal Director of The George Institute for Global Health Board Member, The George Institute for Global Health Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney Professor of Global Health at the University of OxfordProfessor Robyn Norton Principal Director of The George Institute for Global Health Board Member, The George Institute for Global Health Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney Professor of Global Health at the University of Oxford Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Norton: The impetus to focus on women’s health, stems from the knowledge that, while noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability for women worldwide, this is not sufficiently recognized nor sufficiently resourced. Equally, while there is increasing evidence that we can learn so much more about how to address the burden of disease for women, by collecting and analyzing data on women, separately to that for men, this is not happening. We are calling for a refocus of the women’s health agenda on NCDs – given that globally and in many countries the focus of women’s health almost exclusively is still on women’s sexual and reproductive health. The fact is that in all but the poorest countries, the greatest health burden, for women, is  noncommunicable diseases and so that if we are to make significant gains in improving women’s health then we must focus on addressing NCDs. The current global burden of disease for women reflects both the significant gains that have been made as a result of addressing maternal mortality and changes that have affected both women and men equally – namely, that populations are living longer, as a consequence of reductions in both infant mortality and communicable diseases, as well as the fact that populations are becoming wealthier and, as a result, are engaging in behaviors that increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Pediatrics / 14.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Eric W. Christensen, PhD Health Economist Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Christensen: National healthcare expenditures are up from 5.0% of gross domestic product in 1960 to 17.4% in 2013. We must find ways to control cost while maintaining quality. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) were designed to control a population’s health care cost while maintaining or improving quality. This study was an examination of one ACO exclusively covering a pediatric Medicaid population. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Christensen: We found that health care utilization and cost patterns were associated with the length of time patients were attributed to this ACO, where attribution length can be thought of as a proxy for consistent primary care from ACO providers. Specifically, attribution length of 2 or more years was associated with a 40.6% decrease in inpatient days. This decrease was partially offset by increases in outpatient visits (as one would expect with a primary care focus), emergency department visits, and use of pharmaceuticals. Combined these utilization changes resulted in a cost reduction 15.7% for those attributed 2 or more years. These changes were achieved while meeting quality benchmarks. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 06.12.2015 Interview with: Johannes Govaert MD Department of Surgery Leiden University Medical Center Leiden, The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Govaert: The Value Based Health Care agenda ofPprof. Porter (Harvard Business School) suggests that focus in healthcare should shift from reducing costs to improving quality: where quality of healthcare improves, cost reduction will follow. One of the cornerstones of potential cost reduction, as mentioned by Porter, could be availability of key clinical data on processes and outcomes of care. Despite the important societal and economical role the healthcare system fulfils, it still lags behind when it comes to standardised reporting processes. With the introduction of the Dutch Surgical Colorectal Audit (DSCA) in 2009, robust quality information became available enabling monitoring, evaluation and improvement of surgical colorectal cancer care in the Netherlands. Since the introduction of the DSCA postoperative morbidity and mortality declined. Primary aim of this study was to investigate whether improving quality of surgical colorectal cancer care, by using a national quality improvement initiative, leads to a reduction of hospital costs. Detailed clinical data was obtained from the 2010-2012 population-based Dutch Surgical Colorectal Audit. Costs at patient-level were measured uniformly in all 29 participating hospitals and based on Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Govaert: Over three consecutive years (2010-2012) severe complications and mortality after colorectal cancer surgery respectively declined with 20% and 29%. Simultaneously, costs during primary admission decreased with 9% without increase in costs within the first 90 days after discharge. Moreover, an inverse relationship (at hospital level) between severe complication rate and hospital costs was identified among the 29 participating hospitals. Hospitals with increasing severe complication rates (between 2010 and 2012) were associated with increasing costs whereas hospitals with declining severe complication rates were associated with cost reduction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 25.11.2015 Interview with: Anup Das Medical Scientist Training Program Department of Health Management and Policy University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently added a new measure of episode spending to the Hospital Value Based Purchasing program. Participation in this program allows hospitals to receive a financial bonus if they perform well on the included measures. This is the first spending measure in the program, and this change now incentivizes hospitals to improve their quality as well as their spending. The measure evaluates spending from three days before a hospitalization through 30 days post-discharge. In this study, we find that while high-cost hospitals had higher spending levels in each of the three components of an episode of care (pre-admission, index admission, and post-discharge), differences in post-discharge spending were the main determinants of hospital performance on this measure. High-cost hospitals spent on average $4,691 more than low-cost hospitals in post-discharge care. The majority of post-discharge spending comes from skilled nursing facility or readmission costs. Similarly, hospitals that did worse on this new measure of spending over time did so because of increases in their post-discharge spending. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, Stroke / 29.10.2015 Interview with: Mathew J. Reeves BVSc, PhD, FAHA Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Reeves: The National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) is the single most important prognostic factor in predicting outcomes of individual stroke patients. NIHSS data is obviously important at the patient level but also at a hospital level since the case mix of stroke patients are assumed to vary widely across different hospitals and referral centers. Measuring stroke outcomes at a hospital level is becoming increasingly important as work proceeds in the US to develop integrated stroke systems of care. But it is also very relevant to the new payment models being introduced by CMS which are based on hospital rankings that are developed from statistical risk adjustment models. One would expect that NIHSS would be a major contributor to these models but currently a major limitation is that NIHSS is incompletely documented in clinical registries such as GWTG-Stroke, and is completely absent from administrative data. The problem of missing NIHSS data plays havoc with the ability to risk adjust stroke outcomes across hospitals. Missing data results is a smaller number of stroke cases being included in the risk adjusted calculations for a given hospital which results in greater uncertainty over what the actual hospital outcomes are. Further there is concern that NIHSS data is not missing at random, and so the NIHSS data that is documented may represent a biased selection of all the cases that a hospital admits. This too could have important consequences for hospital rankings. To determine the degree of potential bias in the documentation of NIHSS data this study examined trends in and predictors of documentation of NIHSS across 10 years of data (2003-2012) in the GWTG-Stroke program. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA / 20.10.2015 Interview with: Hannah Neprash PhD student Health Policy program Harvard University. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Hospitals are increasingly employing or purchasing physician practices. This trend started before the Affordable Care Act, as our study documents, but there is a concern that these trends may accelerate as providers reorganize to meet the challenges of new payment models that hold providers accountable for the entire spectrum of patient care, spanning inpatient and outpatient settings. It’s not clear how this change in provider market structure should affect spending. It could lead to lower spending, if care is better coordinated, reducing waste and unnecessary utilization. But, it could also lead to higher spending if larger provider groups have more market power and can negotiate higher prices with insurers. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We used Medicare claims to quantify the share of physicians in major metropolitan markets that were owned or employed by a hospital. Most markets saw an increase in physician-hospital integration from 2008 to 2012. The average market saw a 3% increase in physician-hospital integration; the 75th percentile market saw a 5% increase; and the 95th percentile market saw a 15% increase. An increase in physician-hospital integration equivalent to the 75th percentile was associated with a $75 per person (or 3%) increase in annual outpatient spending among a non-elderly commercially insured population. This was driven by price increases – as we found no change in utilization. We did not find a similar association between physician-hospital integration and inpatient hospital spending. This is likely because hospital markets were already less competitive than physician markets at the beginning of our study period. When a hospital system buys a physician practice, the hospitals might not gain much bargaining power against an insurer in negotiating prices for inpatient care, but the hospital’s bargaining power could be used to negotiate higher fees for the outpatient physician practice.  That is, an insurer may not be persuaded by the threat of excluding the physician practice from its network, but the threat of excluding the entire hospital system from the insurer’s network is likely to carry more weight. (more…)