Robots, Weight Loss Surgery, and a Twisted Tale Out of Baltimore
Next came a report from JAMA Surgery that was a big upset, and bound to be a controversial one. Johns Hopkins University researchers paired two groups of obese patients insured by any of seven BlueCross BlueShield plans. One group underwent bariatric surgery while the other did not.
Despite the widespread belief that such surgery can dramatically reduce healthcare costs, Jonathan Weiner and health economist colleagues discovered that that after six years of follow-up, total claims for healthcare expenses were no different in the two groups. Bariatric surgery did not lower healthcare costs for the treated group.
Weiner and his team found that while patients who underwent surgery had lower pharmacy costs and lower costs for physician office visits in the six years after their surgeries, they were back in the hospital far more often than the non-surgical group, cancelling out the savings on drugs and doctor visits.
Why this should be so remains unclear, and a source of bitter dispute, with some bariatric surgeons accusing the authors of being biased, using data from 11 years ago when bariatric techniques were riskier, and not recognizing how much the procedure improved patients' lives.
- 1 in 5 Eligible Hospitals Penalized for HACs
- 'Mega Boards' Could be Rural Healthcare Disruptor
- A Christmas Wish List for US Healthcare
- 12 Hires to Keep Your Hospital Out of Trouble
- Meaningful Use Payment Adjustments Begin
- HL20: Lee Aase—Who's Behind @MayoClinic
- HL20: Rebecca Katz—Cooking Up Sustainable Nourishment
- Two-Midnight Rule Will Cost Hospitals Big
- Top 3 Nursing Lessons of 2014
- HL20: Peter Semczuk, DDS, MPH—Taking on the Big Challenges