Service and Market Research Tools

CMS: Healthcare spending rises only modestly

Healthcare spending rose 3.6 percent, or $2.9 trillion, from 2012 to 2013, marking the lowest growth rate since the federal government began tracking healthcare expenditures in 1960.

How 'smart' should pills be?

The increased need for convenient, minimally invasive, and accurate therapeutic treatment strategies has led to an increased interest in research on smart pills. The article examines how smart pills have the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry.

10 habits of successful process professionals

Wondering how you can become a process professional with high impact in your organization? Here are ten (well, really eight) habits of successful process professionals. Spoiler Alert: Focus on listening. Listen to the business. Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees.

Hospital consolidations raise costs, reduce care quality

According to The Synthesis Project, an ongoing national study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, hospital consolidation generally results in higher prices and a decline in care quality. A second study in the project concludes that for-profit hospitals are more likely to focus on highly profitable services than nonprofit hospitals.

Ensuring competition begins with transparency

"In theory, {healthcare} it's an environment ripe for collusion and imposition of market power-driven price increases on consumers, insurers and employers, who can be taken for a ride by dominant insurers blithely passing along price increases. In theory, excessive market power also squelches innovation and makes it difficult for new entrants to enter the market. Yet there's no evidence any of that is taking place. In fact, healthcare delivery appears to be at the dawn of new era of innovation that's helping drive down both volume and prices."

What's the difference between 'cost' and 'cost?'

Virtually everybody, from CMS to veteran muckraker Steven Brill, argues that healthcare costs are too high but which costs are they really talking about? It's often hard to tell. After cracking his dusty business school textbooks and making the rounds of his finance experts, Michael Koppenheffer can tell you for certain what the problem is: People are talking about no fewer than six different types of "costs." Michael Koppenheffer outlines these six types of costs in an infographic.

Freestanding Emergency Departments

This white paper from the New York State Department of Health describes operational differences between freestanding emergency department and urgent care centers and gives pros and cons compared with hospital-based emergency departments.

ER Wait Watcher - Which emergency room will see you the fastest?

The PRO Publica website shows current and average wait and service times for most hospitals in the U.S. and roll-ups by state. How does your hospital stack up?

New video: Understanding control charts

IHI Executive Director of Performance Improvement, Bob Lloyd, Ph.D. has been teaching the science of improvement all over the world for more than 20 years. The IHI Open School has compiled a series of short "whiteboard" videos in which Lloyd breaks down the core concepts of improvement science. The latest addition to the series is a two-part video on understanding control charts.

How's the health of your state?

The America's Health Rankings website has an interactive map that shows the relative status by state for a number of health-related conditions and environmental factors including overall death rate, incidence of cancer and STDs, and levels of pollution.

Driving value through clinical practice variation reduction: A case study for total joint replacement process improvement

This paper and presentation delivered at the 2013 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference describes work done in the Ochsner Health System to reduce orthopedic joint replacement costs and improve quality for the patient. High quality care at an affordable cost is an attainable goal that is both in the best interest of the patient and the healthcare system. Driving value through minimization of clinical variation enabled OHS to meet a higher standard of patient care while ensuring the long-term financial stability of the organization.

ISE senior design projects offer innovative solutions to industrial challenges

Industrial and systems engineering students at Rutgers University completed a number of senior projects with potential high impact including a hand prosthetic that uses much less energy than current devices and a medicine dispensing machine that improves nursing workflows, inventory management, and documentation. ISE senior design projects offer innovative solutions to industrial challenges.

Sepsis Toolkit, Sepsis Program Implementation Guide for NSW Healthcare Facilities

Sepsis continues to be a disease with high mortality, low clinical standard adherence, and high cost variation for many healthcare organizations. This Sepsis Toolkit from down under may be a useful reference for organizations looking to improve the quality of care for treating sepsis.

A framework for reducing suffering in healthcare - HBR Blog

The authors posit that the time has come to deconstruct suffering by breaking it down into meaningful categories that reflect the experience of patients and help caregivers identify opportunities to reduce it. The authors propose a framework for major types of patient suffering so that health care providers can organize themselves to address suffering more effectively.

Our daily blood - how can labs tackle utilization of high-volume, low-cost tests?

This article from Clinical Laboratory News describes several strategies several hospitals around the country, including Cleveland Clinic, are using to reduce over-utilization of routine lab.

Learning from every death: Six Sigma approach to mortality rate reduction

This presentation at the 2013 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference highlights the reduction in mortality rate at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN as the result of learning from every death. A multidisciplinary, mixed method approach to mortality review was developed to learn as much as possible about system improvements that could save lives. This rich data source is a critical component of effective our DMAIC initiatives for mortality rate reduction.

Evaluating the financial viability of particular operative procedures using TDABC - 2013 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference presentation

To improve revenues, the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital needed to determine the financial viability of particular surgical procedures. This presentation discusses how the hospital used TDABC to determine costs, utilization, and potential process improvements for cataract surgeries to determine whether it should do more or less of them. The approach can be applied to other surgical specialties to identify areas of opportunities and priorities.

How systems engineering can improve healthcare technology?  

The March/April-2013 issue of AAMI's peer reviewed journal Biomedical Instrumentation and Technology (BI&T) has a cover story on Systems Engineering applications in Healthcare Technology Management. "Many of the challenges in healthcare are the same challenges other industries have faced decades ago," says Pat Baird, an engineering director with Baxter Healthcare Corporation. "Healthcare needs to catch up, and I think that 'systems thinking' could help speed the process."

Case study series on pneumonia care improvement measures: Improvement strategies of top-performing hospitals

The following synthesis of performance improvement strategies is based on a case study series published on The Commonwealth Fund website. The hospitals profiled in this series were identified based on their performance on the pneumonia care improvement measures that are reported to the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Please see the case studies for a full description of the selection methodology.

Kaiser Permanente's healthcare IT Journey

This presentation (large download) at the 2012 World of Health IT Conference describes how Kaiser Permanente is successfully leveraging IT resources to improve patient care.

A stratified sampling plan for billing accuracy in healthcare systems 

Many U.S. healthcare organizations are already being exposed to Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) reviews of Medicare and Medicaid billing as well as other third-party payor audits to assure accurate and non-fraudulent billing. In response, the authors propose an analytical approach to efficiently evaluate the accuracy of billing.

Video presentation on models, measurement techniques, and tests for analyzing adherence and performance of evidenced based medicine

In this 2010 presentation at the Dartmouth School of Engineering, SHS contributor and past president, James Benneyan, Ph.D., from the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Northeastern University discusses that challenges of measuring performance of evidenced-based medicine and provides solutions to address these challenges.

The Importance of Communication for Patient Satisfaction

A discussion of survey results regarding communication between providers and the patient.  The visit quality as perceived by the patient increases with fewer communications.

Centralized Database plus Socialized Medicine equals Distributed Risk

This paper details the errors in medical history records that can occur over time within the present U.S. system, and proposes a solution.