When patients were treated at high-quality hospitals, Medicare spent $2,700 less in the first 30 days than it did for patients at low-quality hospitals, researchers have found.
High-quality hospitals might cost Medicare more on the front end but they save money in the long term researchers have concluded.
Researchers at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health examined Medicare costs and outcomes data between 2011 and 2012 for five major surgical procedures—coronary artery bypass grafting, pulmonary lobectomy, endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm, colectomy, and hip replacement.
High-quality hospitals were identified by 30-day surgical mortality rates and patient satisfaction scores.
Beyond the initial $32,000 average cost for the surgeries, the researchers calculated costs of the procedures and post-surgical care at both 30- and 90-day periods among 110,625 and 93,864 Medicare beneficiaries, respectively.
When patients were treated at high-quality hospitals, Medicare spent $2,700 less in the first 30 days than it did for patients at low-quality hospitals, and $2,200 less at 90 days after accounting for all the differences in patient populations, according to the study, which appeared in Health Affairs.
Nearly two-thirds of Medicare's savings were driven by lower use of post-acute care services by patients at high-quality hospitals compared with those at low-quality hospitals.
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.