Hospitals and insurers seek new ways to lower costs

Hospitals and insurers are seeking new ways to lower costs, according to an article in the New York Times.

According to the article, insurers, physicians, and hospitals are all urgently working to slow the growth of healthcare costs to keep the rate more in line with overall inflation. 

Some initiatives that hospitals and insurers are implementing in the effort to control costs include:

  • UCLA Health System is enrolling young patients with complex and expensive diseases into medical homes, where doctors spend more time with patients and also work to coordinate their patients’ care.  The effort has helped to cut emergency room visits in half.
  •  UCLA is also carefully monitoring and reducing imaging procedures on patients in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit. The average number of X-rays per patient has been reduced from 10 to 2 per day.
  • The Cleveland Clinic is reminding surgeons that one unit of blood cost $400 as a way of reducing unnecessary transfusions.  The effort, along with other cost reducing initiatives, has resulted in $4 million in savings last year.
  • In Michigan, Blue Cross financed an effort to have the state’s major hospitals share best practices in areas including bariatric and general surgery in an effort to reduce infection rates and surgical complications.

The article states that patients are also benefitting from these efforts, with improved communication and follow up care for patients.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, May 24, 2012; The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com, May 23, 2012)