Yet most patients don't particularly care how their individual non-compliance affects the cost of care at their hospital or in the healthcare system overall. The resounding sentiment of most attendees at the CFO Exchange is that people just know they want to pay less for their own treatment.
"There's no easy answer. We've talked about what happens when we discharge a patient and they aren't compliant," said Elizabeth Ward, CFO at UT Southwestern University Hospitals, a two-hospital, 420-bed system based in Dallas that is one of the top academic medical centers in the country. Ward noted that her organization sees some chronically ill patients who rarely follow instructions and are consistently readmitted to the hospital.
Starting next week, healthcare organization can be penalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for these 30-day readmissions. During a group discussion at the CFO Exchange, Ward pondered whether hospitals should ever discharge a patient for non-compliance? "In the long run, [patient non-compliance] also goes against our mission to make the patient well," she noted.
With more patients moving to consumer-directed health plans, however, and the advent of greater population health management initiatives among providers, the hope is that patients will be more engaged in improving their own health.