The lack of standardization and integrated medical services has greatly impacted the overall cost of care in academic medical centers (AMCs) across the United States. Independent, ancillary, and employed physicians continue to use different clinical approaches for major surgeries, some of which may not have not been fully evaluated through rigorous scientific studies.
As a result, many surgeons who recommend surgery, oftentimes do so based on personal preference, subjective opinion, or untested theories that may or may not fully correlate with best practices.
With that said, it has never been more important for AMCs to re-evaluate their existing cost structures and consider integrating medical services within their healthcare organizations. Here are a few steps AMCs can take to reduce cost while improving patient outcomes:
1. Standardize patient care – Physicians-in-training play a substantial role in direct costs, partly due to ongoing teaching efforts, unnecessary exam orders and tests, research, supply variation and more. Developing a strategy to integrate services, within service lines, can significantly enhance physician engagement, communication, and ultimately reduce costs through the standardization of patient care.
2. Reduce surgical supply variation – Teaching hospitals generally report higher inpatient costs per discharge, mainly due to high degrees of variation in surgical supplies from poor resource management and physician preference items. To reduce surgical supply variation, it is important to integrate physician co-management initiatives and variation analytics to monitor and limit the use of high cost surgical supplies.
3. Increase operational efficiency – There are many factors that slow down operational efficiency, including late start times, poor block time utilization, and increased turnover time, to name a few. With the right combination of integration services, academic medical centers can bring together independent, ancillary, and employed physicians to develop operational standards that drive the best patient outcomes.
4. Predict the cost of care – As healthcare costs continue to rise, it is increasingly important to use a proactive approach to identify, manage, and reduce the cost of care. Predictive analytics has become a viable solution that can quickly identify variables affecting high cost cases to develop and implement targeted integrative services that can reduce cost and improve patient care.
Clinical variation, poor resource management, and operational inefficiencies are plaguing many academic medical institutions across the country. However, using the right combination of integrated services will ensure that your academic medical center is fully prepared to standardize care, optimize supply utilization, and ultimately reduce the overall cost of care.
What impact do you think integrated services would have on your healthcare organization?