Healthcare Economics: Wither Hospitals

By | April 9, 2012

Your local hospital is certainly the most expensive part of your healthcare, but it may not be the best.

I was reading an blog on Kevin Pho’s website by Howard Luks, MD entitled “Why your local hospital may not be relevant in the future”. In this blog Dr. Luks examines current state and the future of hospitals in our healthcare system. He correctly points out that most hospitals are not user friendly and that medical errors and poor quality control make many hospitals extremely dangerous places to get care. He points out correctly that hospitals are the most costly part of the healthcare system. What he fails to point out is how little we really get for this money. He fails to point out that most of the services that are offered at your local hospital can really be provided more cheaply and with higher quality in physicians’ offices, surgery centers and imaging centers. He also fails to point out that many of the services provided by hospitals really treat avoidable complications of what should be outpatient care. One example that is near and dear to my heart is patients who are admitted to hospital to control the pain of cancer. I have treated many patients at Schlesinger Pain Centers for advanced cancer pain, but who are never admitted to the hospital, because referrals were made in a timely manner and therapy started in an unhurried and elective manner. Two days of hospital care is enough to pay for an intrathecal pain pump, the key is recognized the need for advanced therapy early rather than waiting for an emergency to force an unnecessary admission.  All of this leads us back to the question “Whither hospitals?”

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