Hospitals can save by doing less - Thomson Reuters
Sun April 5, 2009
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - Hospitals in the United States can help patients by doing less and could save at least $4 billion in the process, Thomson Reuters says.
The international professional information provider, parent company to Reuters news, says its comparative analysis can help hospital chief executives lower needless costs by looking for their weak spots when compared to similar hospitals.
"We are talking about saving money and improving quality at the same time," Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president at Thomson Reuters for performance improvement, said in a telephone interview.
"You don't want to do what some companies do, which is do gigantic cutbacks, saying 'We are going to cut 15 percent of all employees,'" said Chenoweth, who also heads up Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals program.
The true savings could top $20 billion over three years, Chenoweth estimated, but she said the $4 billion figure seemed more easily achievable.
One example of a cost-saving measure: reducing infections.
Treating hospital acquired infections costs billions -- up to $4 billion a year alone for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, according to one estimate from Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N).
Another is readmissions. Several analyses show that when patients come back to hospitals too soon after surgery or other treatments, it is a symptom of improper care that hurts the patient and costs hospitals and insurers.
The analysis resembles that from
Dartmouth Atlas, a non-profit academic venture that compares
healthcare costs and outcomes around the
Healthcare reform is at the top of
President Barack Obama's agenda and Congressional leaders say
they must pass a bill some time this year. Both branches of
government say cutting costs in the $2.5 trillion
SURVEY REFLECTS WORRY
A survey released on Sunday found that 69 percent of those polled were worried about the cost of healthcare, compared with 37 percent who feared losing their jobs.
The Health Security Index poll by
survey firm Yankelovich found that 51 percent of the 1,200
adults thought the
Chenoweth said her team's approach uses a comparative analysis to show a hospital where its particular weak spots are and where it should focus efforts to bring down costs.
The nine key areas include mortality, medical complications, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, cash-to-debt ratio, patient safety, overall performance and how well the hospital sticks to clinical standards of care.
"A recent Thomson Reuters report
indicated that 50 percent of
"We are undertaking this initiative because many of our hospital customers are under severe financial pressures."
Chenoweth said the company would offer its findings to the Obama administration and Congress. (Editing by John O'Callaghan)