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Hospital Productivity Growth Spurt

The trend for the past few years continues to be the shift from inpatient care to outpatient care.  The continued result of this trend has been the rallying cries for accountable care, the sharing of responsibility for the control of costs, and the measurement and reporting of improved outcomes, all of which lead up to a large probability of reimbursement being based heavily on quality of care.  We have seen reports and read articles on the rising costs of health care as well as the financial burden in treating patients with recurring, severe illnesses such as diabetes and heart-disease and conditions such as obesity.  We have also read articles on the resulting legislation that has been proposed and implemented as a result of these rising costs and illnesses. 

Another question and request should be “how well are our country’s hospitals performing in the treatment of their patients?”  Recently, there was a refreshing article written in Health Affairs  which sheds some light on answers to the above question.

The article reports how a study was conducted on the productivity by hospitals in treating Medicare patients between the years of 2001-2011. These patients suffered from conditions such as heart failure and pneumonia.  The results show that “the rates of annual productivity growth were 0.78 percent for heart attack, 0.62 percent for heart failure, and 1.90 percent for pneumonia. However, unadjusted productivity growth appears to have been negative. These findings suggest that productivity growth in US health care could be better than is sometimes believed, and may help alleviate concerns about Medicare payment policy under the Affordable Care Act.” 

Steven Bisciello is a Health Care Services Group Director experienced in revenue enhancement programs, health care litigation, compliance and physician practice management.

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