Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

How useful are health rankings?

According to an HSR editorial by Stephan Arndt, the answer is not very.  Generally, county level health rankings are too variable to be of much use.  Further, while some metropolitan regions may have large sample sizes, the sample sizes in less densely populated rural counties will be far lower leading to less precise estimates of any […]

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Quality Adjusted Cost of Care Analysis

The health care industry should take into account outcomes when weighing the cost of new treatments and technologies and make quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) part of the equation, say the authors of a study in the April issue of Health Affairs. This is the begining of an article in Managed Care Magazine that reviews a […]

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Narrow Networks

One of the ways health plans in the health insurance exchanges have been able to keep premiums down is through offering beneficiaries very narrow networks. By steering patients towards “efficient” doctors, premiums stay low. However, patients may worry that these “low cost” doctors are lower quality than those outside of the network. The tradeoff between […]

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Quality and Quality of Life

There have been numerous efforts to measure quality of health care, especially among the elderly.  For instance, Nursing Home Compare measures of quality of care for nursing homes.  However, these quality measures focus on health and safety.  They do not measure quality of life.  Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal describes why nursing homes focus more on […]

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Do quality rankings matter?

There have many policy initiatives to measure and improve quality of care.  For instances, NCQA’s HEDIS measure are the most widely used quality measures among commercial insurers.  Since employers generally choose insurance plans for employees (or at least select the menu of insurance options for employees), one would expect that employers would look for high […]

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Does more spending improve quality?

In most goods and services you buy, the answer is yes.  A Tesla is more expensive than a KIA; a large house is more expensive than a big house; a night at the Ritz Carlton is more expensive than a night at the Motel 6. Nevertheless, in healthcare, many policy wonks believe that cost and quality may […]

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Trends in Value-based reimbursement

A McKesson study cites 7 trends in value-based reimbursement: Rapid adoption of VBR. About 90% of payers and 81% of providers are already using some mix of value-based reimbursement (VBR) combined with fee-for-service (FFS). Collaborative regions are more aligned with VBR. Collaborative regions, where one or two payers and providers stand out, are more aligned […]

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Reimbursement Rates and Quality

How do reimbursement rates affect quality?  One school of thought holds that decreased reimbursement decreases quality in the short-run and decreases innovation in the long-run.  Another school of thought believes that there is so  much inefficiency in the health care system, that reducing reimbursement rates will have no affect  on quality.  Which answer is correct? A study […]

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Disparities in Schizophrenia Care

Do African Americans and Latinos receive the same quality care as Caucasians?  This is the question asked by Horvitz-Lennon et al. (2014). Quality of Care Before one can answer this question, one first has to define what “quality care” means.  The authors use the following definition for pharmacological indicators: Any use of antipsychotic drugs, Conditional on […]

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The uselessness of volume-based hospital analysis

Do hospitals with higher volumes have better outcomes? If hospitals specialize or providers learn-by-doing, hospitals with more admissions or more procedures may have higher quality. A paper by Hentschker and Mennicke (2014) examine just this question and find: We define hypothetical minimum volume standards in both conditions and assess consequences for access to hospital services […]

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