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Healthcare Economics

 - High blood pressure, hypertension

Medicare and private insurers take note: Home blood pressure (BP) monitoring for hypertension is cost effective. So cover it, the American Heart Association (AHA) advocates. 

 - Philips CCTA

Follow-up of incidental findings of pulmonary nodules (PN) during coronary CT angiography (CCTA) reduces deaths from lung cancer but at the price of increased downstream testing, making the practice of dubious value, researchers reported online July 11 in Circulation.

 - Reimbursement Cuts

An intervention designed to eliminate unneeded cardiac biomarker testing for acute coronary syndrome saved $1.25 million in one year at one hospital, according to a study published online June 28 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

 - Reimbursement Cuts

In a survey on physician income and job satisfaction, 45 percent of respondents reported their compensation dropped between 2013 and 2014 and another 43 percent saw no change in income.

 - Medical Money

Expanding a demonstration that bundled hospital and physician payments for several cardiac and orthopedic procedures would have a significant impact on Medicare, wrote authors of a viewpoint that appeared online July 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine. They offered several options going forward.


More Stories

This is going to hurt: $343 lipid tests and $2,924 MRIs

The price of a lipid panel can vary by as much as $328 in Dallas and by as little as $16 in Birmingham, Ala. An analysis by the health services company Castlight Health also found Fresno, Calif., to be a relative bargain for a head CT scan, a lower back MRI and a visit with a primary care physician.

CABG with diabetes carries heavy cost burden in China

The long-term cost of patients with diabetes who undergo CABG will add $84 million to the health system in China, according to a study that found China has the highest prevalence rate for diabetes mellitus in the world. The U.S. is not far behind, though.

Drop in volume puts drag on interventional device market

Declining coronary angioplasty volume in the U.S. and Canada will keep growth in the device market tepid, according to an analysis by MarketsandMarkets. The company projected the markets for interventional and peripheral vascular devices will inch up to about $6 billion by 2018.

SMARTCare holds potential to save billions in heart care costs

An innovative program focused on outcomes in patients with stable ischemic heart disease could change the cost of healthcare. On May 22, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation granted $15.8 million to the SMARTCare pilot program, which is expected to save $42.2 million over the three-year pilot program across 10 participating sites.

Doctor data release: A small step forward amid missteps

The architects of the release of physician-specific Medicare payments and the president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) agree on at least one point: Making the healthcare system’s costs more transparent is a good thing. But they part ways on the quality and usefulness of the data made public in April in two perspectives published online May 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Swift treatment, less use of anesthesia lowers stroke cost

Hospitals can lower the cost of an initial acute stroke admission by shortening treatment times or reducing use of routine anesthesia in patients who receive medical or endovascular treatment, an analysis of the IMS III Trial found.

Afib hospitalizations, costs leap higher over decade

Hospitalization and costs for atrial fibrillation spiked between 2000 and 2010 in the U.S., particularly among octogenarians. The authors of the analysis published online May 19 in Circulation called the trends alarming.

Starting pay better in cardiology than in other fields

Starting salaries for cardiologists in 2013 exceeded the national median for specialty care physicians in the U.S., according to the Medical Group Management Association. Results from its annual salary survey hinted at a favorable market for early career physicians.

Low-value cardiac services take bite from Medicare

Between 25 percent and 42 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received a low-value service in 2009, with cardiovascular testing and procedures accounting for much of the spending. The results were published online May 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Nixing copays for heart drugs improves outcomes for nonwhite patients

Reducing or eliminating copays for medications could go a long way toward closing the gap in cardiovascular disparities, researchers proposed in the May issue of Health Affairs. Their position is bolstered by evidence from the MI FREEE trial.

Siemens shakeup: Corporate restructuring will see healthcare managed separately

As part of its Vision 2020 initiative, Siemens announced May 7 that it plans a major restructuring of the company, including having its healthcare unit managed as a separate business under the Siemens umbrella.

Post-CABG care program lowers readmissions, costs

Enrolling patients in a transitional care program after CABG operations greatly reduced the risk of readmission within 30 days of discharge and saved the hospital $41,000 in costs, according to a study published in the May issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

‘Factory-managed’ care raises quality, cuts costs in cardiac surgery

By implementing a hybrid model of healthcare inspired by industrial engineering concepts, the Mayo Clinic improved the quality of care and reduced costs in its adult cardiac surgery program, it designers reported in the May issue of Health Affairs.

CMS puts index hospitals on hook for CABG readmissions

Hospitals that perform an index CABG procedure will be penalized for unexpected 30-day readmissions, even of the patient was discharged from a different hospital, according a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS intends to add CABG to its readmissions reduction program in 2017.

AATS: Robotic valve procedures may not be a bargain

Minimally invasive mitral valve repair or replacement may offer a better value than robotic procedures, researchers reported April 30 at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery meeting in Toronto.

Money talks: How to broach out-of-pocket costs with patients

Physicians should take the pulse on a patient’s financial health as well as medical needs when making care decisions, two physicians proposed in a viewpoint published online April 21 in JAMA. They offered tips to make the process easier.

Public discourse on payments

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data this week on approximately 880,000 physicians who received Medicare payments in 2012. The information is both revealing and misleading.

Medicare pay: 200 cardiologists clear $1M, with one topping $18M

At least 200 cardiologists received $1 million or more in Medicare reimbursement in 2012, according to data made public April 9 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The top earner’s reimbursement exceeded $18 million.

Public release of physician payments: Chaos or clarity?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may begin posting information about physician payments as early as April 9, a move the government says will facilitate transparency and medical groups charge will foster confusion. 

MedPac calls for payment change for echo, nuclear cardiology

Citing echocardiograms and nuclear cardiology as examples of distorted incentives, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac) recommends aligning outpatient prospective payment rates to physician office rates. The change could trim $264 off hospital payments for certain echo procedures.