June 6, 2013

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Article

Beyond Diagnosis

What is the Treatment for Spiraling Healthcare Costs?

June 6, 2013

For example, hospitals that are involved in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) report between 250 and 500 fewer complications per hospital each year. At an average cost of $11,626 per complication, that translates to annual saving of up to $5.8 million per hospital. Across the industry, it results in savings of up to $26 billion each year.

The University of Utah Health Care system has already used the quality improvement efforts to hold down healthcare cost increases. The U’s healthcare cost inflation rate has been about 1.2 percent over the past few years, while the national average is 3.5 percent.

On the Right Path

The system, as a whole, is starting to improve. Mulvihill notes that deaths related to heart disease have been on a steep decline for decades, and “we’re starting to bend the curve on cancer mortality.”

Great strides also have been made in the area of genetics and personalized medicine.

As more hospitals and providers focus on creating a healthier population, determining which healthcare processes are valuable and effective, and holding down costs for those procedures, communities will begin to get a handle on cost escalation.

Not that this will be easy for anyone.

“You can’t do this and have patients unhappy with your care; we can’t have death panels, right, that can try to withhold important care from people,” says Mulvihill. “So we have to go down a path where we’re able to talk to people about these difficult issues, about how much healthcare is appropriate to utilize.”

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