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Physicians Must Do Their Part To Reduce Unnecessary Hospital Expenses

Hospital costs are out of control. We have an aging population living longer with more complicated presentation of disease. We have an insurance driven platform instead of a health driven accountability. The long term sustainability of that architecture is one of guaranteed insolvency.

One way or another hospitals are going to find their lifeline cut off. Medicaid is bankrupt. Hospital profit margins from Medicare have been negative for almost a decade. In addition, the rapid rise in private insurance premiums and industry’s gradual but accelerating exit from the health insurance benefit market all tell me that hospitals must find a way to reduce the cost of providing care.

There are many ways hospital costs can be reduced. Administrators are paid handsomely to make it happen. Either they do or they don’t succeed. Either they survive the coming Armageddon of hospital funding or they don’t. The hospitals least able to reduce their expenses in a market of decreasing payment will fold and other hospitals will become too big to fail. You want to be too big to fail. That’s the goal. If you can survive the coming tsunami, you will be saved and bailed out when you are the only one left standing.  That is what history has taught us.

So, how can hospital costs be reduced? One way is to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Large Healthcare Systems: Are They Gouging Patients?

With patients having to pay more of what’s charged for their healthcare, comparisons between medical systems like this one in Pennsylvania make us wonder if bigger necessarily means better. From the Times-Tribune:

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council study looked at four regional hospitals that offer cardiac surgery: Geisinger Wyoming Valley, Plains Twp.; Community Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, Scranton; and Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg.

Among the four, Geisinger Wyoming Valley carries the biggest price tag. In 2008, the average hospital charge for a coronary artery bypass graft surgery was $108,029 and the average hospital charge for valve surgery was $132,740, according to information in the report. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

A Transparent Healthcare System: What’s More Clear?

Congressional democrats want more transparency in healthcare, believing it would further drive down the cost of care, reports Politico.

Hoping to drive competition, some lawmakers are grumbling to force doctors to reveal business negotiations between them and drug and device makers. Opponents worry that manipulating economics would backfire. If everyone knows their competitor’s business, why bother negotiating lower prices?

But transparency worked for Wisconsin’s hospitals, not in business dealings but in reporting outcomes, reports The Fiscal Times. By voluntarily revealing clinical outcomes on the Web, the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality was able to spur low-performing hospitals to improve, high-performing facilities to eliminate tests that didn’t improve outcomes, and create an informed healthcare consumer with choices where to receive care.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Hospital Stays: More Intensive, More Expensive

Hospital costs for treating septicemia increased by an average of almost 12% yearly from 1997 to 2007, the AHRQ said today, citing data from its Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Costs jumped from $4.1 billion in 1997 to $12.3 billion in 2007. Other costly conditions in the same time period:

Osteoarthritis: 9.5% annual increase ($4.8 billion to $11.8 billion)
Back problems: 9.3% annual increase ($3.5 billion to $8.5 billion)
Acute kidney failure: 15.3% annual increase ($1 billion to $4 billion)
Respiratory failure: 8.8% annual increase ($3.3 billion to $7.8 billion)

The most important driver of cost increases in the hospital was the greater intensity of services provided during a hospital stay, which grew 3.1% per year from 1997 to 2007 and accounted for 70% of the total rise in hospital costs, the AHRQ said.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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