iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

AHRQ Stats: Hospital Mortality Rates


Hospital mortality rates among adults declined from 2002 to 2012 for four common health conditions, decreasing by 45 percent for pneumonia, 41 percent for heart attack, 29 percent for congestive heart failure and 27 percent for stroke. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #194: Trends in Observed Adult Inpatient Mortality for High-Volume Conditions, 2002-2012.)

We must all do better for patients . . . ultimately for our families and ourselves

According to a recent report:

  • Medication errors affect 3.8 million patients annually
  • In 2014, 59% of hospitals entered at least 75% of all medication orders electronically
  •  In 2013 and again in 2014, 36% of potentially harmful medication orders that were entered electronically did not trigger an appropriate warning
  • 13.9% of potentially fatal medication orders that were entered electronically were not flagged

Source: “Despite Improvement, New Report Reveals Technology to Prevent Medication Errors Fails Too Often,” The Leapfrog Group News Release, April 9, 2015,

Lean Six Sigma is a key enabler for hospital value improvement

Study Examines Five Hospital Systems’ Implementation of Lean

Organizational contexts have a profound effect on the successful implementation of Lean strategies and tools and may affect other types of process redesign and quality improvement, according to an AHRQ-funded study. Adopted from Toyota Production Systems, Lean is a continuous quality improvement strategy for standardizing and streamlining work flow. “Effects of Organizational Context on Lean Implementation in Five Hospital Systems” appeared online December 23 in the journal Health Care Management Review. Researchers, including AHRQ’s Michael I. Harrison, Ph.D., identified several ways intra-organizational context shapes Lean implementation and outcomes. These include CEO commitment and support, prior organizational capacity for performance improvement, alignment of the Lean initiative with the organizational mission, dedication of resources and experts, training, appropriate project management and effective communication within and across teams. The findings underscore the importance of ensuring that the management system, information technology and other organizational conditions can support an improvement initiative.

Patrick Conway on lower hospital ED use

Patrick Conway will be one of the Novembe 2015 Cracking the Code on Health Care speakers in Rochester, NY

CMS official links lower hospital, ED use to support for primary care
A 2% decrease in hospital admissions and emergency department visits can be linked to increased CMS support for primary care, the agency’s chief medical officer, Patrick Conway, told the National Quality Forum’s annual conference. He highlighted several population health and coordinated care projects, initiated by hospitals and physician practices, that have reduced costs and improved quality of care. HealthLeaders Media

Health Care: People are not going to the places closest to their homes

According to a recent analysis of data from the 2009-2010 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey:

  • The emergency departments (EDs) that patients visited were located an average of 6.8 miles from the patient’s home, although the nearest ED was an average of 3.9 miles from the home
  • 43.8% of all ED visits occurred at the ED closest to the patient’s home
  • Only 37.2% of ED visits within metropolitan areas took place at the closest ED, compared with 70.1% of visits outside of metropolitan areas
  • In metropolitan areas, the average wait time for being seen (by a physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner) at the ED closest to a patient’s home was 52.3 minutes, compared withan average wait time of 62.3 minutes for visits to EDs that were farther away

Source: “Emergency Department Visits and Proximity to Patients’ Residences, 2009–2010,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCHS Data Brief Number 192, March 2015,


Calling all stakeholders – working together to reduce readmissions

Readmissions become bigger issue for primary care physicians CMS penalties on hospitals with high readmission rates have put pressure on primary care physicians to help keep patients from needing additional inpatient stays. Physicians are using post-discharge care management programs and forming accountable care organizations that focus on performance-based care. Medscape (free registration)

Hospital prices grew at a slower rate

According to a recent report, year-over-year hospital prices grew only 0.9% in December, the lowest percentage in over 16 years. Source: “Hospital Price Growth Drops Below 1% Even as Health Sector Employment Jumps,” Altarum Institute Press Release, February 13, 2015,

March 4, 2015 | Categories: Cost,healthcare,hospitals | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

Hospitals need to focus on stuff that matters

Aesthetics have little effect on patient satisfaction, study finds Although hospital design and other facility aesthetics contribute to patient satisfaction with facility features, there is no link to patient satisfaction overall or satisfaction with care, according to a report in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. Researchers recommend that facilities instead focus on improving personalization, raising the level of communication with patients and including family members whenever making care decisions. HealthDay News

March 2, 2015 | Categories: healthcare,hospitals | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

Hosptial Nurse Staffing Linked to Reduced Adverse Events and Lower LOS

Increases in hospital nurse staffing levels are associated with reductions in adverse events and lengths of stay and do not lead to increased costs, a longitudinal study by AHRQ concluded. Researchers also found that increasing the number of registered nurses, as opposed to other nursing positions, led to reduced costs. The authors linked hospital nurse staffing data to AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) State Inpatient Databases from California, Maryland and Nevada between 2008 and 2011 to estimate the causal relationship between nurse staffing (level and skill mix), quality (adverse events as measured by nurse-sensitive patient safety indicators), lengths of stay and cost. The findings suggest that increased staffing of registered nurses can improve patient outcomes and efficiency. “Examining the Value of Inpatient Nurse Staffing: An Assessment of Quality and Patient Care Costs” and the abstract appeared in the November issue of Medical Care. Authors included AHRQ’s H. Joanna Jiang, Ph.D., and Carol Stocks, Ph.D., R.N.

Use of copays do not reduce Medicaid members use of ERs

JAMA internal Medicine published a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Researchers showing that Medicaid copayments do not significantly reduce Medicaid recipients’ use of emergency rooms.  “Our study suggests they will need to look at other strategies besides requiring copayments. There was little evidence that cost-sharing would have any impact on the use of emergency rooms by poor people, who often have few other health care options,” said the lead author of the study.

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