For years, healthcare reform advocates have argued that finding more efficient ways to treat patients would lead to higher quality medicine and better outcomes. This special report on Truven Health Analytics' 100 Top Hospitals documents that the advocates had it right.
Though it seems counterintuitive, hospitals that spend less than expected on drugs have fewer 30-day readmissions from heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. Patients also report higher satisfaction with their care at facilities that act parsimoniously in their purchasing of drugs and other supplies.
As reporter Adam Rubenfire notes in his story, hospitals have done a lot of work in the past few years to bring their drug costs under control. Standardizing treatment protocols and communicating clearly with doctors about those protocols helps to hold down spending.
It isn't easy. Some physicians attack such approaches as “cookbook medicine” and claim it will harm patients. This report suggests those fears are unfounded.
Similarly, Truven's findings show that less Medicare spending is associated with better performance by hospitals. Compared with higher-spending hospitals, readmissions are lower, lengths of stay shorter and patient safety higher at hospitals with lower Medicare spending per beneficiary.
Modern Healthcare has consistently voiced its support for delivery-system reform. We have editorially backed the Choosing Wisely campaign, where medical specialties are encouraged to identify and reduce inappropriate use of tests, drugs and procedures.
It's good to know that there is sound science behind those editorial stances. As our reporting on Truven's analysis of hospitals' quality and outcomes data contained in this report shows, hospitals that rise to the top of the heap tend to buy less, do less and cost less.