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Healthcare CEOs Reveal Cost-Reduction Strategies

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, October 12, 2012

One of Crouse's quality officers frequently sends out "did you know?" statistical emails to his colleagues referencing cost savings opportunities because often physicians don't realize the true power of their ordering pens. For example, if each ordered one less test per patient it would save the hospital over a million dollars a year.

Kronenberg says the point is not to deter doctors from ordering necessary tests, but to help physicians to remember to check whether a potential test might have recently been performed on the patient.  

Another area of emphasis is on blood utilization. Hospitals could save "about $1.06 million per hospital per year" without changing patient outcomes, says an economic report from Premier. Crouse has taken the extraordinary step of including a blood utilization officer, who is a physician, on staff to help standardize guidelines surrounding transfusions. This move has reduced the hospital's transfusion costs significantly.

The next big frontier is variation in supplies, Kronenberg says.

Mark Brenzel, CEO of Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, KY, a LifePoint hospital, has a supply committee made up of clinicians. They're hammering suppliers. Several manufacturers are no longer in the hospital because they wouldn't meet targets on price.

His physicians agree that quality has not suffered and value has dramatically increased, Brenzel says.

While he concedes his revenue cycle is fairly lean, Ron Paulus, MD, CEO of Asheville, NC-based Mission Health, says there's tremendous opportunity for cost savings surrounding physician preference items.

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