Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Great Way to Lower Health Care Costs

I just wanted to pass along this great article from the Washington Post about one Pennsylvania health care system that has found a way to lower the costs of bypass surgery by about 15 percent while improving patient outcomes. And, much to the GOP's disappointment, it has nothing to do with trial lawyers:

You could think of them as the Maytag repairmen of health care.

In an industry that makes its money by selling more -- more tests, more surgeries, more drugs -- Geisinger Health System officials gambled three years ago that they could succeed by doing less, but doing it better.

Mimicking the appliance company that advertised its products' reliability, the health system devised a 90-day warranty on elective heart surgery, promising to get it right the first time, for a flat fee. If complications arise or the patient returns to the hospital, Geisinger bears the additional cost.

The venture has paid off. Heart patients have fared measurably better, and the health system has cut its bypass surgery costs by 15 percent. Today, Geisinger has extended the program to half a dozen other procedures, and initiatives such as the counterintuitive experiment in Pennsylvania coal country are now at the heart of efforts in Washington to refashion how care is delivered across the United States.

Though not identified by name, the Geisinger model tracks closely with the policy goals of President Obama. A key target is to reduce expensive errors, duplication, and unnecessary procedures that do nothing to improve health and may actually result in worse outcomes.

1 comment:

Tudor said...

Beautiful. Based on your post, it looks like a competitive free market worked nicely here. As long as consumers (patients) have elsewhere to turn, providers must raise their game to stay in business.

As soon as those options are removed (via government managed care?) there is no incentive to develop innovated programs like this.