Every month, UPMC’s top brass gathers to study three very important green, red and blue squiggly lines that bounce up and down and up again across the length of several charts.
The lines represent the academic health system’s “cost per” unit in key areas. Using the numbers, leaders of the Pittsburgh-based system learned, for example, that their nursing cost per case was up 3% in March compared with what had been budgeted, the product of 2% higher expenses and 1% lower volume.
On the bright side, the health system’s drug cost per patient day was down 2% from budget, a product of 2% lower expenses and 1% lower volume.
And cost per surgery had declined 3% over the prior year, the welcome effect of closing two outpatient surgery centers and consolidating cases within existing facilities.
“That’s why you’re seeing that improved productivity, because we actually reduced our fixed-cost infrastructure,” said Robert DeMichiei, executive vice president and chief financial officer at UMPC. “We had not only the data and the measurements and the insight into our operations, but we also had the management willpower and initiative.”