Bending the Cost Curve
Sep 8, 2015 4:00 PM
While everyone agrees that health care spending in the United States is out of control ($3.2 trillion and climbing), few have been able to figure out how to curb it. That’s partly because, while most industries know exactly how much it costs to provide goods and services, the surprising truth is that hospitals have been in the dark about how much it actually costs to provide care.
The University of Utah is among a handful of health systems able to track its costs, right down to the number of bandages used during surgery, thanks to a “Value Driven Outcomes” (VDO) software tool created more than two years ago by some of our senior leaders from finance, decision support, quality improvement, biomedical informatics and IT. By asking the fundamental question—what does it cost—we are leading a national conversation about how to transform health care, writes Gina Kolata of The New York Times in today’s cover story on VDO, which is helping providers and hospitals find ways to improve outcomes and reduce costs. “While costs at other academic medical centers in the area have increased an average of 2.9 percent a year over the past few years, the University of Utah’s have declined by 0.5 percent a year,” writes Kolata.
Though, there’s still monumental work to be done to control health care spending, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter calls VDO, “epic progress.” Imagine if everyone had access to real-time cost data, quality metrics and patient satisfaction scores like we do. And of course, it’s just the beginning. With each passing year, VDO’s interface and decision-support tools have improved, and we will continue to add new functions. The next phase will include an overlay of patient reported outcomes, as part of a system-wide effort at the University of Utah to better understand and measure the health outcomes that matter most to patients.
Our faculty, administrators and staff will tackle these challenges with continued creativity and that spark of ingenuity that so characterizes the work here, working together across so many areas of expertise productively to make a difference. I feel really proud to be associated with such an outstanding organization.comments powered by Disqus