Consequences Of Hospital Mergers Go Beyond Higher Prices–Quality Of Care Is Suffering As Well
For many goods, the common thought is that competition leads to lower prices and better quality. But people often think of health care as different — that it somehow shouldn’t be “market based.” Studies, however, prove otherwise.
The New York Times:
Hospital Mergers Improve Health? Evidence Shows The Opposite
Many things affect your health. Genetics. Lifestyle. Modern medicine. The environment in which you live and work. But although we rarely consider it, the degree of competition among health care organizations does so as well. Markets for both hospitals and physicians have become more concentrated in recent years. Although higher prices are the consequences most often discussed, such consolidation can also result in worse health care. Studies show that rates of mortality and of major health setbacks grow when competition falls. (Frakt, 2/11)
In other health industry news —
Will Blockchain Save The Healthcare System?
In the simplest terms, blockchain is a shared record of transactions. It enables participants in a group to securely share data with each other without a middleman and keep track of what was exchanged and when. Instead of that record being located on a single, hackable computer, it is maintained across multiple computers, which makes the information extremely difficult to tamper with or delete. That tamper-proof characteristic, along with a process that ensures any information put into the blockchain is valid, enables trust between the group participants. So in the case of the blockchain-enabled provider directory, if one insurance company in the alliance calls a doctor's office to verify an address and updates that information in the record, all members of the alliance would see the change. That means less work for the rest of the insurers and the doctor's office. (Livingston, 2/9)
Lack Of Robust Data Analysis Impedes Care Improvement Efforts
Providence St. Joseph Health leveraged data to reduce its knee replacement costs by more than $1 million a year. The Renton, Wash.-based integrated health system first analyzed what drove variation across its 51-hospital network and targeted the use of antibiotic-infused bone cement. Hypothetically, it can stave off infections. But the pre-mixed product added significant cost without substantial evidence that it was effective. Looking at a two-year dataset of about 20,000 knee replacements performed at Providence St. Joseph, there wasn't a distinct difference in the quality data for patients who received the antibiotic-infused cement and the cement without it. (Kacik, 2/7)