Researchers were looking at the difference in the cost of surgery paid by Medicare at “high quality” hospitals versus the cost at “low quality” hospitals, when they uncovered the goods.
The mortality rate following surgery at hospitals with a higher quality of care is less than half of that at hospitals with lower quality services, according to Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of International Health at Harvard Chan School, and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
For those who may be encouraged to go to a lower quality facility for a variety of reasons, this is obviously bad news.
How were “high quality” and “low quality” determined?
According to a press release put out by Harvard’s T.H Chan School of Public Health, researchers in the study identified rankings for hospitals by looking at mortality rates in the first month following surgery, and also by questioning patients on the level of care they received in hospital.
The good to come from it all? Apparently, the study also found that it actually costs Medicare less for a patient to have surgery in a higher-quality facility than in a lower end one. Medicare pays a few thousand dollars less when patients have surgery in a high quality hospital, compared with the overall cost of having surgery in low quality facilities.
Researchers are attributing the difference in cost to follow-up treatments that happen after surgery is over.
This includes extras such as staying in a rehabilitation center or having care from home health aides.
Jha, the study leader, says that the results should be reason enough for policymakers to help patients choose high-quality hospitals for their surgical needs.
Saving lives and money, is a win-win for everyone, she stated.