NYTimes: How do hospitals, doctors, employers and health insurers cut costs and improve care?

We note that the NY Times mentions no Massachusetts plans in this morning’s  staff editorial on  the “growing number of hospitals, doctors, employers and health insurers are finding ways to reduce the cost of delivering medical care while maintaining or improving quality.” We may fall under “various health insurerers” but only our wonks get a direct mention.

Some of the most creative approaches being tried in the country are described in a recent book published by the Institute for Health Care Improvement, a nonprofit organization in Cambridge, Mass., and in a forthcoming report from the Institute of Medicine, in which the chief executives of 11 health care systems endorse a checklist of 10 steps they say every hospital can take to reduce costs and improve care.

 Former IHI/CMS chief Donald Berwick recently made the same point in the Globe:

Can Massachusetts’ health care be universal, excellent, and far less expensive?

Absolutely. The route is simple: improve care. In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, my colleague Andy Hackbarth and I estimated the amount of pure waste in American health care — overtreatment that helps no patient at all (like treating viral infections with antibiotics), errors and injuries from unsafe care, failures in coordination (such as sending people home from hospitals without supports), needless administrative complexity, failures of price competition, and fraud. The lowest estimate of total waste in these six categories was 21 percent of health care costs; the highest was 47 percent; and the midpoint was 34 percent.

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