Strong clinical and operational performance at the nation's high-performing hospitals is associated with their more efficient use of drugs and supplies, according to a new study.
Lower-than-expected use of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals is linked to lower rates of mortality, lower 30-day readmission rates and higher patient-satisfaction scores at hospitals that score well in Truven Health Analytics' 100 Top Hospitals study, according to an exclusive study conducted for Modern Healthcare by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based data and research firm.
Truven found that hospitals with less waste—and therefore lower-than-expected supply and pharmacy costs per discharge—outperformed others on multiple quality measures used by Medicare.
The study included 2,560 hospitals from Truven's flagship 100 Top Hospitals study for which pharmacy and supply data were available from Medicare. Together, the hospitals reported nearly 5.3 million discharges.
Among all the hospitals studied, most spent slightly less than what they expected to spend on pharmaceuticals and supplies in the 2013 federal fiscal year, with an average observed/expected ratio of 0.998 for pharmaceutical products and 0.992 for supplies (a hospital with a ratio of 1 would have spent exactly what it projected). However, some hospitals in the study spent as much as 6.9 times more than expected on drugs and 9.5 more than projected on supplies.
The hospitals' average pharmacy cost per discharge was $1,062, while the average supply cost per discharge among hospitals was $2,440. While hospitals were spending only a fraction less per case compared with what they expected to spend, the cumulative savings and positive outcomes were significant, according to Truven.
Truven found that at hospitals in the study that spent less than expected on pharmaceutical products, patients experienced fewer readmissions due to acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia, and lower overall average rates of 30-day readmissions. Patients at hospitals that spent less than expected on drugs also reported higher satisfaction on Medicare's Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, while the facilities reported higher operating margins and lower Medicare spending.