Hospitals keeping people out of the hospital may be the formula for success as health care reform comes to life.
There’s a change coming in health care and soon value will be rewarded more than volume. The trend has been in place for a few years and it will continue to grow as larger portions of hospital margins come from the provision of outpatient care. Historically hospitals created margin by keeping people in hospital beds and bed turnover and census were the best predictors of success.
Life has changed and hospitals that realize having fewer patients in hospital beds isn’t a recipe for disaster but is a signal they’re providing better health care because they’re keeping people out of the hospital and focusing on health instead of sickness, will not only survive, but have the chance to thrive.
Outpatient settings have a lower cost structure and in many cases can provide the same, and better quality, care as an inpatient setting. Keeping people out of the hospital should be the goal of any health care organization because that means the patient isn’t getting sick enough to be in the hospital.
Under the current payment system the patient drops money into a bucket when he’s admitted to the hospital. The payment model is changing and hospitals will soon be paid to keep people healthy. The new model will give the hospital a bucket full of money at the beginning of the year and every time a patient is admitted, that patient will take money out of the bucket because it will “cost” to provide care for the patient. The hospital’s objective will be to provide high quality care in the most cost-effective setting because having money left in the basket at the end of the year will allow the hospital to continue to operate.
High quality care in a cost-effective manner is the goal. Admitting a patient to the hospital will soon mean that we are failing to meet our obligation to help maintain the health and wellness of those we serve.