High-volume hospitals are more costly for all patients

Hospitals that perform high rates of invasive heart procedures are more costly for all patients, even those who do not receive invasive procedures, according to a Yale study published last week in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Researchers found that heart failure patients treated with noninvasive procedures had a median cost of $5,259 per hospitalization at facilities with low procedure use, but their median cost rose to $6,965 at hospitals that perform a high volume of invasive procedures.

The study couldn't distinguish a single service area to explain the cost difference, as high-procedure hospitals had higher costs for most service areas.

"This study highlights that the high cost of high-procedure hospitals is not only the result of doing more invasive procedures," lead author Serene I. Chen said Thursday in a research announcement. "Instead, it may be that hospitals that have an intensive style of practice--those that do more procedures--also do more of everything else, such as imaging studies, medication administration, and laboratory testing, even for heart failure patients who are medically managed."

The study also found smaller, non-teaching institutions had low procedure use, while urban teaching hospitals performed a lot of invasive procedures.

But despite the increased costs, hospitals with higher volumes of procedures could see better patient safety. A study last fall in the journal Health Services Research found that the more procedures hospitals were performing, the lower the rates of adverse events they experienced.

To learn more:
- here's the research announcement
- check out the study abstract