Affordability at the fore

Hospitals are dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable care. That’s why so many are devising innovative new care models — models that address affordability in ways that help patients and the health system as a whole. 

A number of providers are making care more affordable by asking whether some services traditionally handled on an inpatient basis might be moved outside the hospital. In our cover story starting on Page 8, Lola Butcher describes self-care programs — still not that common in the United States — in which patients administer their own treatments, often at home. Intravenous antibiotics and dialysis provide two examples of self-care.

“Everybody's looking for how to change the system so that we can achieve the Triple Aim,” says Frederick Cerise, M.D., president and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas. “This shows that allowing patients to have a more active role in their care may be an area to explore for those new processes and innovations.”

Butcher reports that Parkland's self-care IV antibiotics program has reduced costs, bettered patients’ quality of life — patients don't have to disrupt their lives for a hospital stay — and improved health outcomes.

Affordability can be more difficult to achieve when costs lie beyond the provider’s control, as is the case with inpatient drugs.

Here, as Maggie Van Dyke points out in an article on Page 13, there are strategies health systems can follow to contain costs driven by skyrocketing drug prices. Hospitals can focus on the nuts and bolts: managing supply chains and inventories to control what they spend. Health systems also can arm clinicians with information about effective and lower-cost alternatives to the drugs they're prescribing. 

Hospitals are innovating all the time. Whether it’s managing resources, drugs or patient relationships, there is a lot they can, and are, doing to make sure health care is more affordable. And that provides better care — for everyone.