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Despite high costs, less than half of hospitals deliver above average care

By Tauren Dyson
Despite high costs, less than half of hospitals deliver above average care
Only 40 percent of the hospitals in the United States are providing above the average in safety, quality, mortality and imaging rates and effectiveness of care. File Photo by Mary Rice/Shutterstock

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Fewer than half the nation's hospitals are delivering high quality healthcare, a new study says.

Only 40 percent of the hospitals in the United States provide above average care based on ratings of safety, quality, mortality and imaging rates, as well as effectiveness, according to a report published by medical supplier Zoro.

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The results come even as the per-patient costs for each hospital remain high, and increase in many parts of the country.

"Health care in America is a hot-button issue, but a lot of the conversation focuses on exponential costs and lack of universal health care," Anja Solum, a spokeswoman for Zoros, told UPI. "Zoro wanted to explore care expenses while taking into account significant factors like the quality of care, accessibility, location (state), and the type of hospital to give a comprehensive analysis on the state of health care."

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The researchers pulled together data on cost, location and hospital specialty from Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Care Cost Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The data was compiled in 2017.

Specifically, they analyzed general acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, children's hospitals, chronic disease hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, military hospitals, special hospitals for specific diseases, women's hospitals, critical access care facilities in rural communities and long-term care nursing home facilities.

Of 7,570 hospitals in the United States, nearly 60 percent are general acute care facilities, while 13.6 percent are critical access facilities to rural residents and almost 10 percent are psychiatric hospitals.

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Utah hospitals performed the best with 40 percent reaching the above-average mark. Meanwhile, New York hospitals performed worst with nearly 42 percent hitting below the average mark.

The researchers say expenses can heavily influence how well a hospital delivers healthcare.

The price to provide in-patient care at these facilities varied widely based on hospital ownership. For example, for-profit hospitals in West Virginia had the lowest daily cost for care at $1,362 per patient and facilities in North Dakota had the highest daily cost at $4,701 per patient.

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Costs at non-profit hospitals were slightly higher, with Mississippi facilities delivering care for $1,365 per patient, while Idaho hospitals provided medical services for $4,208 per patient.

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But the biggest disparity came with state and local government hospitals.

Montana had the lowest cost per patient at $52 compared to Oregon with the highest cost at $4,062.

However, some states have worked to bring down in-patient costs. From 2013 to 2017, Wyoming has dropped its costs by nearly 15 percent. On the other hand, New Hampshire has seen its in-patient costs increase by almost 25 percent.

During the same time period, not one state reduced its out-patient costs. In fact, Maryland was the only state not to see its costs go up between 2013 and 2017. That's contrasted with North Dakota, which saw its costs rise by nearly 30 percent.

"We want people to have a better understanding of what their care options are in their respective states. Medical expenses can be significant, but attempting to cut costs can be detrimental," Solum said. "Allocating savings towards future health expenses is one of the safer ways to decrease bills and stay on budget."

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