In Changing Marketplace, Hospitals And Insurers Are Moving To Control Costs
A variety of reports look at changes in the hospital business, as well as doctors' concerns about malpractice costs.
The New York Times: For Hospitals And Insurers, New Fervor To Cut Costs
Giselle Fernandez is only 17 but she has had more than 50 operations since she was born with a rare genetic condition. She regularly sees a host of pediatric specialists. ... Her care has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so far. ... While UCLA Health System has long prided itself on being at the forefront of treating patients like Giselle, it is now trying to lower sharply the cost of providing that care. By enrolling young patients with complex and expensive diseases in a program called a medical home, the system tries to ensure that doctors spend more time with patients and work more closely with parents to coordinate care. The program has cut emergency room visits by slightly more than half (Abelson, 5/23).
NPR: By Putting Patients First, Hospital Tries To Make Care More Personal
No one likes to go to the hospital. But some hospitals around the nation are trying to make their patients' stays a little less unpleasant. They're members of an organization called Planetree, which was founded by a patient named Angelica Thieriot, who had a not-so-good hospital experience back in the 1970s. ... Today Planetree has certified, or "designated," 30 hospitals and nursing homes in the U.S. and four countries as meeting a specific list of criteria that qualify them as providing truly patient-centered care (Rovner, 5/23).
The Wall Street Journal: Medical Devices In Hospitals To Go Wireless
Hospitals are getting ready to cut the cord. In place of knots of wires stuck to patients to monitor their blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level and body temperature, doctors and the companies that supply them hope to use Band-Aid-like sensors to accomplish the same task wirelessly. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday to open up spectrum for wireless medical devices, raising the possibility of easier hospital-patient monitoring, fewer tubes in emergency rooms, and more remote monitoring at home (Linebaugh, 5/23).
And two news outlets look at malpractice litigation and its costs.
Modern Healthcare: Industry Leaders Voice Optimism On Curbing Defensive Medicine
Undertaking extensive efforts to improve the quality of care provided has not mitigated malpractice costs—including the cost of defensive medicine—for some providers, but it may in the future, representatives of several providers undertaking delivery reforms told a Senate panel. Dr. Lee Sacks, chief medical officer for Advocate Health Care, based in Oak Brook, Ill., told the Senate Finance Committee that the health system's medical liability costs were $90 million in 2011, despite the broad use of a model quality improvement system since 2004 (Daly, 5/23).
Reuters: Docs Win Most Malpractice Suits, But Road Is Long
Malpractice claims against U.S. doctors are often dismissed, and when they go to trial, the verdict is usually in the doctor's favor, according to a new study. But even when a case is dismissed, the road is typically long for both doctors and the patients suing, researchers said. … Medical malpractice claims have become a hot-button issue in the U.S., coming up repeatedly in debates about healthcare reform. Some specialists must pay a couple hundred thousand dollars a year in premiums for insurance against malpractice claims -- though rates vary by state (Norton, 5/23).