Strategies For Integrating Cost-Consciousness Into Acute Care Should Focus On Rewarding High-Value Care
Author: Jesse M. Pines, David Newman, Randy Pilgrim, Jeremiah D. Schuur
The acute care system reflects the best and worst in American medicine. The system, which includes urgent care and retail clinics, emergency departments, hospitals, and doctors’ offices, delivers 24/7 care for life-threatening conditions and is a key part of the safety net for the under- and uninsured. At the same time, it is fragmented, disconnected, and costly. We describe strategies to contain acute care costs. Reducing demands for acute care may be achieved through public health measures and educational initiatives; in contrast, delivery system reform has shown mixed results. Changing providers’ behavior will require the development of care pathways, assessments of goals of care, and practice feedback. Creating alternatives to hospitalization and enhancing the interoperability of electronic health records will be key levers in cost containment. Finally, we contend that fee-for-service with modified payments based on quality and resource measures is the only feasible acute care payment model; others might be so disruptive that they could threaten the system’s effectiveness and the safety net.