Hospital cost-cutting initiatives are often hit and miss

Hospitals throughout the country almost always focus their efforts on cutting costs and improving their bottom lines, often prodded to do so by insurers, employers and government officials. But initiatives to do so are not always as cut and dried.

Organizations can spend a lot of money on trying to save money, and it can lead to mixed results, according to Forbes contributor Nicole Fisher.

"Reducing cost is any industry is a difficult task, but in healthcare, the difficulty is compounded by the need to maintain, or in many cases, improve the quality of care, health outcomes, and patient satisfaction," Fisher wrote.

Citing outside data, Fisher noted that 88 percent of hospitals have cost-saving strategies in place, but only 17 percent reach their targets.

One example is Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Although Northwestern was able to reduce its costs by case index mix by 15 percent, the initiative probably cost another $11 million in manpower to implement, according to Liz Kirk, who drove a cost-saving initiative at the organization. 

One way to improve communications between the clinicians and executives crucial to meeting cost-cutting goals is to find common language. The Yale New Haven Health System in Connecticut used the term quality variation indicators, or QVIs, in order to better facilitate communications between the necessary parties and reduce friction. The initiative, which focused on reducing clinical practice variations, saved the system $125 million, according to Forbes.

But other hospital operators in Connecticut are not so fortunate. Those facilities left high and dry by Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s decision to pull out of a major deal have to begin cutting costs immediately--and with very little guidance, the Hartford Courant reported.

To learn more:
- read the Forbes article
- check out the Hartford Courant article