Health Care Spending and the Winds of November


Using homeownership as an analogy, we'll explore how the traditional role of health insurance has been replaced by an expectation that each beneficiary will take out at least as much as they pay into the system, a fundamentally unsustainable economic model.


The Decline of Emergency Departments: COVID’s Impact on Where Patients Seek Care


Most health care services volumes are poised for a rapid recovery from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a shift in where care is delivered that began before the pandemic has only accelerated and is particularly impacting emergency department demand.


A Fire Hydrant, a Chain-Link Fence and the Health Care Labor Shortage


Health care has not been spared from a nationwide labor shortage. This blog explores how the traditional payment system can complicate an already challenging situation and the implications for patient care and ongoing efforts to address the issue of health disparities.


Teach Your Parents Well: The Pediatric Pandemic


A reflection on the findings of a recent study conducted by the Children’s Hospital Association and the implications for the wider U.S. health delivery system. Viewing the impacts of the pandemic through the lens of pediatrics offers a window into the broader issue of challenging socioeconomic determinants of health.


The Future of Health Care: COVID’s Impact and the Change That Comes with It


For most of 2020, COVID-19 disrupted and significantly altered the infrastructure of the world’s industries, including health care delivery and services. But at what level can we expect health care to return to pre-pandemic levels? What are the long-term effects of the pandemic even as the virus generally abates while the new delta variant threatens? And what other drivers will factor into change? Here are several important trends along with what to expect.


Health Care as an Uncommon Good


American medicine is facing an identity crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic brought renewed attention to socioeconomic health disparities and turned up the heat on the question of whether health care is a right or a privilege. The financial strain on hospitals resulting from the temporary postponement of scheduled surgeries exposed a vulnerability caused by an inherently flawed payment system.


Spinning Wheels, Flashing Lights and Health Care Pricing


Health care pricing—in particular, the variability in what different payers pay providers for the same services—can seem to take on elements of classic TV game shows as the amount the provider gets paid has less to do with the cost of care and is more dependent on who pays the bill. The subsidization of government payments by private-sector insurers is well documented. What is less widely known is the difference in provider payments between services covered by health insurers and those paid for by a segment of the industry known as property and casualty insurers. While not accounting for a large portion of overall health care spending, the variation in prices paid by different classes of insurers underscores the irrationality of the patchwork quilt that is our national financing system.


EHRs, Air Traffic Control and Unmet Expectations


Imagine you’re on a commercial jet headed from Beijing to Paris and you’re descending over the Netherlands through heavy cloud cover with limited visibility. Your pilot contacts air traffic control in Amsterdam for instructions, speaking Mandarin Chinese. After a momentary pause a voice responds, speaking Dutch. Unknown to you, another plane, 55 minutes after taking off from Charles De Gaulle airport, is climbing over Belgium headed in your direction. Its pilot contacts air traffic control in Brussels, speaking Danish. The response crackles back over the radio in French. Meanwhile, the blips on the respective radar screens keep getting closer together.


Medicine, Mortgages and the Middle Class


In his latest blog posting entitled “Medicine, Mortgages and the Middle Class”, Vizient Research Institute executive director Tom Robertson takes a new look at an old economic concept that will change the way we think about health care spending. 


CMS Updates its Star Ratings: A Simpler Methodological Approach Provides Clarity Needed to Drive Change


Whether you are a hospital administrator, a physician, a nurse, or other member of your hospital’s family, you know well the true north of our daily purpose is to provide quality health care to patients. And the compass that helps us navigate that course is data. So where do hospitals and consumers go to get this data? One source is the Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings. Here are several important changes from yesterday’s CMS update to its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings as well what additional changes are still needed.