News Updates — What Is Really Raising Healthcare Costs?

Published September 07, 2013


Our biweekly news updates are designed to keep you up to date with current developments relating to the Acute Care Continuum. Feel free to share your perspective on these stories or link to articles that you have found relevant to today's healthcare environment.

Could Care Coordination Lead to Higher Prices?

Despite an emphasis on care coordination by policymakers and health system administrators, an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine explores the possibility that increased coordination may decrease competition, resulting in higher costs. The economists who wrote the article remark that, "Well-integrated provider networks may promote coordinated care that improves the allocation of healthcare resources, but they are likely to undermine competitive pressures to keep prices down while maintaining lower quality." The authors call for increased oversight to regulate the formation of larger health networks.

Finding a Solution to Defensive Medicine

Defensive medicine has long been blamed as one of the contributors to rising healthcare costs, but a number of reports have found the problem to have been exaggerated and proposed reasonable solutions. Medscape surveyed several thousand physicians and learned that around 40 percent had been sued by a patient. Another poll found that 75 percent of physicians had practiced defensive medicine in the past year. However, the fear of being sued for malpractice overshadows the actual risk. Physician education, patient education and tort reform have been proposed as solutions that could reduce the practice of defensive medicine.

Hospital-Acquired Infections Cost Hospitals Billions

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that hospital-acquired infections (HAI) cost the healthcare industry $9.8 billion a year. The researchers went on to say that surgical site infections account for 33.7 percent of all HAI, costing on average $20,785 per patient. "Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) account for a large proportion of the harms caused by healthcare and are associated with high costs," the authors note. "Better evaluation of the costs of these infections could help providers and payers to justify investing in prevention."

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