In this national study of 438,895 physicians, 45% provided care to hospitalized patients and 7% provided critical care. At the high estimate of patients requiring hospitalization at the projected peak of the pandemic, 18 states and Washington, DC would have patient to physician ratios greater than 15:1 (a level associated with poor outcomes among hospitalized patients). There was considerable geographic variation in the availability of physicians: 41% of hospital service areas did not have a physician with critical care experience.
A study of hospitals in New York and Illinois at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic found that most did not meet benchmark patient-to-nurse staffing ratios for medical-surgical or intensive care units. New York City hospitals had especially low staffing ratios. Understaffed hospitals were associated with less job satisfaction among nurses, unfavorable grades for patient safety and quality of care, and hesitance by nurses and patients to recommend their hospitals.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of physicians and hospitals that jointly contract to care for a patient population. ACO contracts incentivize coordination of care across providers. This can lead to greater consolidation of physician practices, which can in turn generate higher costs and lower quality. Given this, the study asks, as ACOs enter health care markets, do physician practices grow larger?
In this national study, Medicare beneficiaries treated by new surgeons had poorer outcomes than those treated by experienced ones in the same hospitals. However, the type of operation and the patient’s emergency status – rather than physician inexperience – explains nearly all poorer outcomes. Higher-risk cases are disproportionately treated by new surgeons.
On January 1, 2017, Philadelphia became the second U.S. city to tax the distribution of sweetened beverages. The 1.5 cent per ounce tax applies to the distribution of sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages. Similar taxes have been passed in several other cities and are being considered at the state level. The authors examined the effect of the tax on beverage prices and sales at chain retail stores in Philadelphia.
Factors over the life course affect the mental health of urban black men with serious injuries. Childhood adversity, pre-injury physical and mental health conditions, and intentional injury (violence) are risk factors for post-injury depression and posttraumatic stress. Clinicians should expand assessment beyond the acute injury event to identify those patients at risk for poor mental health outcomes.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]bout 5.5 million older adults are living with dementia, a chronic, progressive disease characterized by severe cognitive decline. This number will likely grow significantly as the U.S. population ages, which has cost implications for the Medicare program. A full accounting of these additional expenses will help policymakers plan for them in their Medicare budgets. In this study, Norma Coe and colleagues examined survival and Medicare expenditures in older adults with and without dementia to estimate dementia’s incremental costs to Medicare in the five years after diagnosis.
Among high-risk Medicare Advantage members with congestive heart failure, a proactive outreach program driven by a claims-based predictive algorithm reduced the likelihood of an emergency department (ED) or specialist visit in one year by 20% and 21%, respectively. The average number of visits dropped as well, with a 40% reduction in the volume of ED visits and a 27% reduction in the volume of cardiology visits after the first year.
In this study of postacute care, more than 10% of Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) stays included no visit from
a physician or advanced practitioner. Of stays with visits, about half of initial assessments occurred within a day of
admission, and nearly 80% occurred within four days. Patients who did not receive a visit from a physician or advanced
practitioner were nearly twice as likely to be readmitted to a hospital (28%) or to die (14%) within 30 days of SNF
admission than patients who had an initial visit.
Patient Outcomes After Hospital Discharge to Home with Home Health Care vs to a Skilled Nursing Facility
In this study of more than 17 million Medicare hospitalizations between 2010 and 2016, patients discharged to home
health care had a 5.6 percent higher 30-day readmission rate than similar patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility
(SNF). There was no difference in mortality or functional outcomes between the two groups, but home health care was
associated with an average savings of $4,514 in total Medicare payments in the 60 days after the first hospital admission.
A surprise medical bill is a bill from an out-of-network provider that was not expected by or not chosen by the patient.To see whether consumers are more likely to switch hospitals after receiving a surprise bill, Benjamin Chartock and Sarah Schutz, and their co-author Christopher Garmon, analyzed nationwide employer-sponsored health insurance claims for labor and delivery services. Mothers who received a surprise out-of-network bill for their first delivery had 13% greater odds of switching hospitals for their second delivery compared to those who did not get a surprise bill.
Changes to Racial Disparities in Readmission Rates After Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Within Safety-Net and Non-Safety-Net Hospitals
After the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program began enforcing financial penalties, disparities in readmissions between white and black patients widened at safety-net hospitals for conditions not targeted by the program. Disparities were stable for conditions targeted by the program. At non-safety-net hospitals, disparities were unchanged for both targeted and non-targeted conditions.
Using advanced practice nurses to support high risk patients and their families to transition from hospital to home can reduce postacute care use and costs. A study comparing three evidence-based care management interventions for a population of hospitalized older adults with cognitive impairment found that the Transitional Care Model, which relies on advanced practice nurses to deliver services from hospital to home, was associated with lower postacute care costs when compared to two “hospital only” interventions.
In the report To Err is Human (1999), the National Academy of Medicine called for national action to improve patient safety in hospitals. The report concluded that improving nurse work environments—assuring adequate nurse staffing and supporting nurses’ ability to care for patients—was critical to these efforts. Two decades later, have nurse work environments improved, and has that had a noticeable impact on patient safety? To find out, a research team led by LDI Senior Fellow Linda Aiken, PhD, RN surveyed more than 800,000 patients and 53,000 nurses in 535 hospitals in 2005, and again in 2016.
A Comprehensive Measure of the Costs of Caring For a Parent: Differences According to Functional Status
Providing unpaid care for an older parent has costs that go well beyond a caregiver’s lost wages. A new estimate suggests that the median direct and indirect costs of caregiving are $180,000 over two years, about the same as full-time institutional care. This estimate accounts for lost earnings as well as non-tangible factors, such as lost leisure time and changes to the caregiver’s well-being. It suggests that informal care cost caregivers at least $277 billion in 2011, which is 20 percent higher than estimates that only consider lost wages.