Maryland hospital's cost savings, admission numbers model for rest of state

A Maryland medical center made substantial progress cutting costs and admissions, making it a central hub of the effort to revamp healthcare in the Old Line State, according to Business Insider.

Western Maryland Regional Medical Center in Cumberland reduced admissions 21 percent year-over-year, which contributed to a nearly 12 percent statewide drop in preventable hospitalizations between 2011 and 2013, exceeding Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) goal of a 10 percent reduction, according to the article. Price controls also help the state's rural hospitals experiment with solutions.

Moreover, since November, the hospital reduced costs by $3.5 million, with a new clinical center saving patients about $1.4 million. O'Malley wants a renewed healthcare system in the state. "It's impossible to talk about making genuine progress with your people if you're not making genuine progress on their health," he told Business Insider, and Western Maryland's progress illustrates that such progress is possible, even in an economically struggling city like Cumberland. 

The progress is particularly encouraging in light of the state's troubles implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Maryland's healthcare exchange crashed on its first day, leading to some of the lowest participation levels by share of population nationwide during the ACA's first open-enrollment period. Maryland has since switched exchange contractors from IBM to Deloitte, and O'Malley is optimistic about the next open-enrollment period this November.

The failure of the health exchange, O'Malley said, led to confusion over the success of the state's similarly-named health information exchange, which is used by the state's 46 acute-care hospitals to monitor and make decisions on patient care.

Care coordination is also gaining steam as a potential fix for the state's health system, Maryland Hospital Association CEO Carmela Coyle wrote for Hospital Impact.

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