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Facility costs and quality – are you operating in the dark?

Probably yes.

Facilities account for between a third and half of work comp medical spend – and that share is increasing as health systems and hospitals consolidate.

Reality is there’s major variation between hospitals  – some are stupid expensive, others quite reasonable; some have crappy quality, others excellent quality.


Here’s a good one for our colleagues in Louisiana…two hospitals less than 15 miles apart, with VERY different costs and similar quality ratings.

Note costs are for MSK conditions…pretty relevant to workers’ comp.

So, you can send your injured workers to a VERY expensive facility  – Tulane – that does a handful of complex surgeries OR…

To a MUCH less expensive facility – Ochsner – that does 14 times more surgeries (practice makes perfect…)

Let’s add a CMS quality metric...for our friends in the Sunshine State, you can send injured workers here…

solid quality, and very reasonable pricing…

or…here (just a few miles away)

to a facility with a bottom-of-the rating by CMS and costs more than double its higher-quality neighbor.

These data are available from a few states and CMS (takes some digging); HSA also has developed a national tool enabling instant facility comparison across multiple quality, patient safety, and cost metrics – drop a comment below if you want info.

What does this mean for you?

Do you want to spend $98,000 at a  facility that does few procedures, or a quarter of that at a facility that does hundreds?



2 thoughts on “Facility costs and quality – are you operating in the dark?”

  1. The essential focus of Workers’ Compensation should be on quality of care for the injured workers because that is what drives over all outcomes. (and it is the right thing to do) Overspending with a facility that does not get better outcomes does both the injured worker and the employer a disservice

    1. Completely agree Bill.

      The good news is there’s often an inverse correlation between quality scores and cost.

      BTW “quality” is comprised of patient safety, clinical outcomes, and patient engagement.

      Each of these categories have multiple data inputs that determine the score for each category.

      be well Joe

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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