Variations in efficiency and the relationship to quality of care in the veterans health system.
ABSTRACT There is widespread belief that the US health care system could realize significant improvements in efficiency, savings, and patient outcomes if care were provided in a more integrated and accountable way. We examined efficiency and its relationship to quality of care for medical centers run by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a national, vertically integrated health care system that is accountable for a large patient population. After devising a statistical model to indicate efficiency, we found that VA medical centers were highly efficient. We also found only modest variation in the level of efficiency and cost across VA medical centers, and a positive correlation overall between greater efficiency and higher inpatient quality. These findings for VA medical centers suggest that efforts to drive integration and accountability in other parts of the US health care system might have important payoffs in reducing variations in cost without sacrificing quality. Policy makers should focus on what aspects of certain VA medical centers allow them to provide better care at lower costs and consider policies that incentivize other providers, both within and outside the VA, to adopt these practices.
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ABSTRACT: Providers with lower costs may be more efficient and, therefore, provide better care than those with higher costs. However, the relationship between risk-adjusted costs (often described as efficiency) and quality is not well understood. We examined the relationship between hospitals' risk-adjusted costs and their structural characteristics, nursing levels, quality of care, and outcomes. U.S. hospitals with low risk-adjusted costs were more likely to be for-profit, treat more Medicare patients, and employ fewer nurses. They provided modestly worse care for acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure but had comparable rates of risk-adjusted mortality. We found no evidence that low-cost providers provide better care.Health Affairs 01/2009; 28(3):897-906. · 4.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The belief that integrated delivery systems offer better care at lower cost has contributed to growing interest in accountable care organizations. These provider-led delivery systems would accept responsibility for their primary care populations and would have financial incentives for improving care and reducing costs. We investigated this belief by comparing the costs and quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries in twenty-two health care markets by physicians who did and did not work within large multispecialty group practices affiliated with the Council of Accountable Physician Practices. In most markets, and after adjustment for patient factors, group physicians affiliated with the council provided higher-quality care at a 3.6 percent lower annual cost ($272 per patient).Health Affairs 05/2010; 29(5):991-7. · 4.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides health care for U.S. military veterans. By the early 1990s, the VHA had a reputation for delivering limited, poor-quality care, which led to health care reforms. By 2000, the VHA had substantially improved in terms of numerous indicators of process quality, and some evidence shows that its overall performance now exceeds that of the rest of U.S. health care. Recently, however, the VHA has started to become a victim of its own success, with increased demands on the system raising concerns from some that access is becoming overly restricted and from others that its annual budget appropriations are becoming excessive. Nonetheless, the apparent turnaround in the VHA's performance offers encouragement that health care that is both financed and provided by the public sector can be an effective organizational form.Milbank Quarterly 02/2007; 85(1):5-35. · 4.64 Impact Factor