News and Highlights

July 2014

Study Supports Analyzing Cost Variations at the Hospital Level

William Borden, MD
Dr. William Borden

William B. Borden, MD, Assistant Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research, is the lead author; and Alvin I. Mushlin, MD, ScM, Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research, and of Medicine, the senior author, of an article published in Healthcare titled “Assessing variation in utilization for acute myocardial infarction in New York State.” Noting that previous studies have shown wide variations in the amount of money Medicare spends for heart attack hospital admissions throughout the regions of New York State, the authors tried to determine if analyzing variations in costs at the hospital level is useful in helping to explain regional cost variations.

“We found a strong correlation between Medicare reimbursements for specific regions in New York State and hospital costs in that region,” said Dr. Borden. “This correlation supports the use of hospital costs to examine the reasons for regional variation.”

Alvin Mushlin, MD, ScM
Dr. Alvin Mushlin

“The study revealed that hospitals with cardiac surgery capability had higher costs. This is not surprising since cardiac surgery capable hospitals care for more complex patients and can provide more intensive services,” said Dr. Mushlin. “Among hospitals with similar cardiac capabilities, the complexity and illness of patients was the leading cause of cost variation.” The authors also found that teaching hospitals have greater costs on a per-patient basis than non-teaching hospitals. They conclude that the study findings support further measurement and analysis at the hospital level to better understand the reasons for regional variations in healthcare expenditures.


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