Hospitals turn to collaboration to curb wasteful spending

The industry is embracing care coordination, with roughly three-quarters (72 percent) of healthcare leaders entering into collaborative care relationships, according to a HealthLeaders Media report released this month. Moreover, 44 percent rank a lack of care coordination as the top driver of waste.

Acknowledging the potential savings of collaborative efforts, half (50 percent) of respondents said they would develop or join a patient-centered medical home, and 48 percent would join an integrated delivery system to cut back on costs.

Those who aren't teaming up with other healthcare organizations cited not having interested partners or no financial or strategic need to collaborate, the report noted. Concerns over risks associated with shared savings programs also are slowing down the adoption of collaborative delivery models within the industry, according to a HealthLeaders article.

"There's better coordination of care that is taking place, but we're at the starting point; it's definitely in its infancy," Frederick (Md.) Regional Health System Chief Financial Officer Michelle Mahan said. "We need to do a better job of preventive care, with patient-centered medical homes, for instance. On the whole issue of care coordination, no question, we can do better," she said.

Former CMS Administrator Donald Berwick echoed the need for better coordination, citing inferior care coordination as one of six categories that account for more than 20 percent of escalating healthcare expenditures. To curb spending, he advised hospitals also address overtreatment, poor execution of care processes, administrative complexity, pricing failures, and fraud and abuse, according to an April article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Hospitals still cautious of collaborative care models should look to Ohio for motivation, as eight children's hospitals across the state found that collaboration reduced surgical site infections by 60 percent and adverse drug reactions by 34.5 percent. Last fall, the state also demonstrated the benefits of collaboration when teamwork among 53 of its hospitals resulted in central line-associated bloodstream infections in intensive care units dropping by 48 percent, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- download the collaborative care report (.pdf)
- read the HealthLeaders article