With controlling health care costs high on the list of public policy priorities, Children’s Hospital Boston has been a leader in reducing costs in a way that continues to improve quality. A story in yesterday’s Boston Globe highlights some of our initiatives, including the fact that we voluntarily reduced our prices and rates to private insurers and to Medicaid-managed care programs by $90 million over the last year and a half. Importantly, the article also points out the fact that pediatric care is more expensive to deliver than adult care and that Children’s costs are closely aligned with those of other pediatric-only hospitals around the country; this is a message we’ve been trying to share in discussions with the government and payers in the last several years.
The initiatives described in the article—including working closely with insurers to reduce fees for high-volume appointments and tests, developing payment structures that reward quality and innovation, and an effort to have children with recurrent headaches seen in the most effective and cost-efficient setting—are only a few of the hundreds of projects underway across the hospital. This comprehensive, multi-pronged, data-driven continuous effort to improve quality and reduce unnecessary resource utilization has driven much of our thinking and planning in the last several years, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
While the first phase of cost-cutting, which focused on operational issues, has yielded positive results, over the long term, changing the way we use the medical system is far more important to reducing costs. This type of cultural shift, which has required new thinking from the medical community and patient families alike, may take longer to achieve. But we are focused on jumpstarting and moving that process along with investments in these innovative programs.
While this article was an important first step in acknowledging Children’s proactive and comprehensive approach to the rising health care cost challenge, it did not give sufficient credit to the Children’s physicians and staff who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to drive these changes, and who remain committed to delivering improved patient care quality and service at more affordable prices.
Read more about the Headache Collaborative mentioned in the Boston Globe article.
Read more about the innovative pediatric cardiology program we’re developing, called SCAMPs.