Beth Israel CEO: Curb unnecessary end-of-life care to lower costs

A year after Massachusetts implemented a law to cap health spending, execs from large hospitals and insurance companies discussed steps they're taking to help lead the charge toward cutting costs, including implementing coordinated care and boosting quality.

Boston Medical Center, for example, has decreased costs by 10 percent in the last three years, CEO Kate Walsh said at a meeting held by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). And Steward Health Care's 11 hospitals receive lower payment rates from insurers than most hospitals in Massachusetts, according to WBUR.

Meanwhile, Partners Healthcare CEO Gary Gottlieb said it has already demonstrated that it can lower health spending. "If we look at 2012, our health-adjusted total medical expense actually went down by 0.7 percent and we beat the [alternative quality contract] 2012 trend for the rest of the marketplace," he said. "We expect absolutely 2013 to be below statewide benchmark. We will continue to focus on costs."

Also speaking at the GBIO public meeting, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Kevin Tabb hoped to compel the audience into assisting the state's largest hospital systems in curbing costs. By preventing friends and family members from trying every health service or treatment or undergoing multiple tests at the end of life, Tabb said the audience could help avoid unnecessary costs, WBUR noted.

"It would be invaluable if all of you, if faith communities, would take a leadership role in statewide discussions about how we can ensure that we are doing better in end-of-life care," Tabb said. "That includes but isn't limited to helping us ensure that we are spending our money as wisely as possible."

But despite some of the hospitals' efforts, some have continued to struggle in a post-reform Massachusetts healthcare market. Nine of the 10 Steward hospitals in Massachusetts, for example, lost money during the first quarter of 2013, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the WBUR article