4 habits of high-value healthcare organizations; Hospital M&A would raise the cost of healthcare;

> Specification and planning is among the four habits of high-value healthcare organizations, according to research in the New England Journal of Medicine. The author notes that acknowledging such habits is important because, although high-value healthcare organizations differ in structure, resources, and culture, they usually have similar methods of care management. Article

> To ease the overuse of its emergency room, Spectrum Health in Michigan is sending "frequent fliers" to an alternative clinic for treatment, reports the Detroit Free Press. Dr. R. Corey Waller, a Spectrum addiction and emergency medicine specialist, projects the clinic could save the system between $12 million and $15 million a year. If the program is adopted statewide, it could generate up to $250 million in Medicaid savings. Article

> Despite the trend of healthcare M&A, a new study from the National Institute for Healthcare Management found that hospital mergers and consolidation would raise the cost of healthcare for private insurers and employers. For instance, the average hospital in concentrated markets received $32,411 for each coronary angioplasty, compared to the $21,626 received in competitive hospital markets. Report (.pdf)

> The nationwide drug shortage has already forced hospitals to buy marked-up meds or look for alternative treatments. With no end in sight, hospitals in Cleveland, including Cleveland Clinic, now are stock piling drugs in anticipation of a bigger shortage, reports The Plain Dealer. Article

> If physician-owned hospital construction and expansion projects were allowed to proceed, 35 percent would expand within five years, according to a survey by Physician Hospitals of America. What's more, 55 percent would expand immediately to meet community demand if restrictions in health reform were lifted. Press release

> The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the healthcare reform law by March 2012; however, Americans are still split on how they view the law, concludes this month's Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. In November, 44 percent of Americans opposed the law, and 37 percent supported it. Poll

And Finally... Man dressed as Frosty terrifies small town. Article