Two recent reports on hospital quality and growth in healthcare spending suggest that healthcare providers are making meaningful systemic changes that are improving the value of U.S. health care, according to a Healthcare Financial Management (HFMA) senior executive.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported a 17 percent decline in the rate of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) from 2010 to 2013. This decline represents an estimated 50,000 lives and $12 billion. The rates of both saved lives and reduced costs appeared to accelerate during the study’s time frame, with the largest improvements coming in 2013. (“Hospital-Associated Infections Fall 17 Percent,” HFMA Weekly News, December 5, 2014)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the hospital producer price index (PPI) last month rose by 1 percent from October 2013, the smallest since a 0.17 percent increase in 1997. Compare this to a 2.2 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. (“Hospital Prices Continue Slow Rise,” HFMA Weekly News, December 5, 2014)
Decline in HACs
DHHS noted that declines in HACs were broad-based; i.e., across the listed conditions, but reductions in the rates of pressure ulcers and adverse drug events declined the most significantly.
The reported noted that the safety improvements occurred in conjunction with concerted hospital efforts to reduce adverse events. Those efforts “were partially driven by initiatives of the Affordable Care Act, such as Medicare bonuses and penalties linked to quality of care and the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative.” (“Hospital-Associated Infections Fall 17 Percent,” HFMA Weekly News, December 5, 2014)
Slowed Growth in Health Spending
Within hospitals, outpatient PPI grew by 1.1 percent and inpatient PPI rose by 1 percent since October 2013, according to a BLS news release. More recently, hospital outpatient prices increased by 0.1 percent from September to October, while inpatient prices rose by 0.6 percent.
Other sources also reported a decrease over the last two years:
- Health Care Cost Institute—U.S. health spending in 2013 continued the slow growth that has been in effect since the start of the recession.
- Office of the Actuary for CMS reported in 2013 that hospital spending increased by 1.5 percentage points in 2012.
“The causes of these improvements have been the subject of much debate in the policy community, with some attributing decreased rates of spending to a weak economy,” said the HFMA executive. “As the trend in lower rates of increase continues, however, and is combined with reports of improved quality of patient care, the evidence tilts increasingly toward the likelihood that healthcare providers are making meaningful systemic changes that are improving the value of U.S. health care.” (“Hospital-Associated Infections Fall 17 Percent,” HFMA Weekly News, December 5, 2014)
To read the report on hospital acquired conditions click here.
To read the article from Health Affairs on slower growth in health spending click here (subscription required to read the full article).
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