An Illinois agency will expand its authority to collect and analyze healthcare data to include outpatient care, according to a new law.
The law, signed last month by Gov. Jim Edgar, says the Illinois Health Care Cost Containment Council will be able to analyze surgical data from 225 outpatient hospital clinics and 84 licensed freestanding surgery centers. For more than a decade, the council has been collecting and analyzing healthcare cost and utilization data from Illinois hospitals.
But the agency's board members, who include consumers, healthcare providers and executives from the insurance industry, said data from the state's 228 hospitals no longer accurately reflect a majority of healthcare costs.
"Today, as much as 60% of total healthcare spending by consumers occurs in an outpatient setting with many patients no longer being admitted into long-term hospital care," said Joseph Bonefeste, director of IHCCCC. "If our consumer reports are expected to accurately show the cost of healthcare, it is imperative that we show a more complete picture of healthcare by capturing additional data to reflect outpatient treatment."
The 11-member council, created in 1984, has a budget of $1.3 million. Nearly one-quarter of IHCCCC's revenues comes from sales of data products.
Much of the data, such as a hospital care "buyer's guide," coronary bypass reports and maternity length-of-stay reports, are free to consumers. However, DRG analysis and more intense data searches are available for a fee.
The agency regularly publishes reports from the data collected from hospitals. Last month, the IHCCCC began a two-year pilot test of its data collection for outpatient-care facilities.
Officials hope a more complete picture of Illinois healthcare costs can be attained by 1998, after the pilot test is completed and the system is fully updated.