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Nancy McLaughlin, Alexander A. Khalessi and Neil A. Martin

payment) in 2015. Physician reimbursement will be determined by similar clinical process, patient experience, outcomes, and efficiency components. Given the complexity of neurosurgical patients, direct physician engagement in risk adjustment will be essential to prevent disproportionate cuts in funding for centers managing the sickest patients. “Understanding costs could be the single most powerful lever to transform the value of health care.” 5 This edition of Neurosurgical Focus aims to show the importance of health care economics and cost analysis in our current

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Nancy McLaughlin, Michael K. Ong, Victor Tabbush, Farhad Hagigi and Neil A. Martin

Economic evaluations provide a decision-making framework in which outcomes (benefits) and costs are assessed for various alternative options. Although the interest in complete and partial economic evaluations has increased over the past 2 decades, the quality of studies has been marginal due to methodological challenges or incomplete cost determination. This paper provides an overview of the main types of complete and partial economic evaluations, reviews key methodological elements to be considered for any economic evaluation, and reviews concepts of cost determination. The goal is to provide the clinician neurosurgeon with the knowledge and tools needed to appraise published economic evaluations and to direct high-quality health economic evaluations.

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Asdrubal Falavigna, Nicolas Scheverin, Orlando Righesso, Alisson R. Teles, Maria Carolina Gullo, Joseph S. Cheng and K. Daniel Riew

types of analyses are currently used in health care economics: cost-minimization, cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness, and cost-utility. 35 Cost-minimization studies simply describe the costs of treatments for an indication to determine the least expensive. Cost-benefit analyses establish the ratio between resources spent and benefits gained with a determined treatment. Cost-effectiveness studies estimate the value of an intervention by calculating the ratio between the benefit provided by a specific health care intervention and the cost of a specific health outcomes

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Frank J. Attenello, Ian A. Buchanan, Timothy Wen, Daniel A. Donoho, Shirley McCartney, Steven Y. Cen, Alexander A. Khalessi, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Joseph S. Cheng, William J. Mack, Clemens M. Schirmer, Karin R. Swartz, J. Adair Prall, Ann R. Stroink, Steven L. Giannotta and Paul Klimo Jr.

.44, 11.47 0.008 NA = not applicable. Discussion Undue stressors in the workplace can have adverse effects on a resident’s emotional well-being with resultant detriment to patient care and health care economics. The extensive reach of burnout has prompted action because of its presumed role in medical errors and associations with higher rates of depression, substance abuse, relationship discord, and suicide. 8 , 11 , 27 , 28 , 57 , 66 Whereas the prevalence of burnout in US workers is estimated to be 28%, the number is closer to 40% for physicians and 57% for

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Seungwon Yoon, Michael A. Mooney, Michael A. Bohl, John P. Sheehy, Peter Nakaji, Andrew S. Little and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

With drastic changes to the health insurance market, patient cost sharing has significantly increased in recent years. However, the patient financial burden, or out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, for surgical procedures is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to analyze patient OOP spending in cranial neurosurgery and identify drivers of OOP spending growth.

METHODS

For 6569 consecutive patients who underwent cranial neurosurgery from 2013 to 2016 at the authors’ institution, the authors created univariate and multivariate mixed-effects models to investigate the effect of patient demographic and clinical factors on patient OOP spending. The authors examined OOP payments stratified into 10 subsets of case categories and created a generalized linear model to study the growth of OOP spending over time.

RESULTS

In the multivariate model, case categories (craniotomy for pain, tumor, and vascular lesions), commercial insurance, and out-of-network plans were significant predictors of higher OOP payments for patients (all p < 0.05). Patient spending varied substantially across procedure types, with patients undergoing craniotomy for pain ($1151 ± $209) having the highest mean OOP payments. On average, commercially insured patients spent nearly twice as much in OOP payments as the overall population. From 2013 to 2016, the mean patient OOP spending increased 17%, from $598 to $698 per patient encounter. Commercially insured patients experienced more significant growth in OOP spending, with a cumulative rate of growth of 42% ($991 in 2013 to $1403 in 2016).

CONCLUSIONS

Even after controlling for inflation, case-mix differences, and partial fiscal periods, OOP spending for cranial neurosurgery patients significantly increased from 2013 to 2016. The mean OOP spending for commercially insured neurosurgical patients exceeded $1400 in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 13%. As patient cost sharing in health insurance plans becomes more prevalent, patients and providers must consider the potential financial burden for patients receiving specialized neurosurgical care.

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Richard P. Menger, Jai Deep Thakur, Gary Jain and Anil Nanda

OBJECTIVE

Insurance preauthorization is used as a third-party tool to reduce health care costs. Given the expansion of managed care, the impact of the insurance preauthorization process in delaying health care delivery warrants investigation through a diversified neurosurgery practice.

METHODS

Data for 1985 patients were prospectively gathered over a 12-month period from July 1, 2014, until June 30, 2015. Information regarding attending, procedure, procedure type, insurance type, need for insurance approval, number of days for authorization, or insurance denial was obtained. Delay in authorization was defined as any wait period greater than 7 days. Some of the parameters were added retrospectively to enhance this study; hence, the total number of subjects may vary for different variables.

RESULTS

The most common procedure was back surgery with instrumentation (28%). Most of the patients had commercial insurance (57%) while Medicaid was the least common (1%). Across all neurosurgery procedures, insurance authorization, on average, was delayed 9 days with commercial insurance, 10.7 days with Tricare insurance, 8.5 days with Medicare insurance, 11.5 days with Medicaid, and 14.4 days with workers' compensation. Two percent of all patients were denied insurance preauthorization without any statistical trend or association. Of the 1985 patients, 1045 (52.6%) patients had instrumentation procedures. Independent of insurance type, instrumentation procedures were more likely to have delays in authorization (p = 0.001). Independent of procedure type, patients with Tricare (military) insurance were more likely to have a delay in approval for surgery (p = 0.02). Predictably, Medicare insurance was protective against a delay in surgery (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Choice of insurance provider and instrumentation procedures were independent risk factors for a delay in insurance preauthorization. Neurosurgeons, not just policy makers, must take ownership to analyze, investigate, and interpret these data to deliver the best and most efficient care to our patients.

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Richard P. Menger, Bharat Guthikonda, Christopher M. Storey, Anil Nanda, Matthew McGirt and Anthony Asher

Neurosurgeons provide direct individualized care to patients. However, the majority of regulations affecting the relative value of patient-related care are drafted by policy experts whose focus is typically system- and population-based. A central, prospectively gathered, national outcomes-related database serves as neurosurgery’s best opportunity to bring patient-centered outcomes to the policy arena.

In this study the authors analyze the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the determination of quality and value in neurosurgery care through the scope, language, and terminology of policy experts. The methods by which the ACA came into law and the subsequent quality implications this legislation has for neurosurgery will be discussed. The necessity of neurosurgical patient-oriented clinical registries will be discussed in the context of imminent and dramatic reforms related to medical cost containment.

In the policy debate moving forward, the strength of neurosurgery’s argument will rest on data, unity, and proactiveness. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) allows neurosurgeons to generate objective data on specialty-specific value and quality determinations; it allows neurosurgeons to bring the patient-physician interaction to the policy debate.

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Haley E. Mansfield, W. Jeffrey Canar, Carter S. Gerard and John E. O'Toole

Object

Patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy in whom a course of nonoperative treatment has failed are often candidates for a single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) or posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF). The objective of this analysis was to identify any significant cost differences between these surgical methods by comparing direct costs to the hospital. Furthermore, patient-specific characteristics were also considered for their effect on component costs.

Methods

After obtaining approval from the medical center institutional review board, the authors conducted a retrospective cross-sectional comparative cohort study, with a sample of 101 patients diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy and who underwent an initial single-level ACDF or minimally invasive PCF during a 3-year period. Using these data, bivariate analyses were conducted to determine significant differences in direct total procedure and component costs between surgical techniques. Factorial ANOVAs were also conducted to determine any relationship between patient sex and smoking status to the component costs per surgery.

Results

The mean total direct cost for an ACDF was $8192, and the mean total direct cost for a PCF was $4320. There were significant differences in the cost components for direct costs and operating room supply costs. It was found that there was no statistically significant difference in component costs with regard to patient sex or smoking status.

Conclusions

In the management of single-level cervical radiculopathy, the present analysis has revealed that the average cost of an ACDF is 89% more than a PCF. This increased cost is largely due to the cost of surgical implants. These results do not appear to be dependent on patient sex or smoking status. When combined with results from previous studies highlighting the comparable patient outcomes for either procedure, the authors' findings suggest that from a health care economics standpoint, physicians should consider a minimally invasive PCF in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy.

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Hasan A. Zaidi, Kristina Chapple and Andrew S. Little

Object

Treatment of craniopharyngiomas is one of the most demanding and controversial neurosurgical procedures performed. The authors sought to determine the factors associated with hospital charges and fees for craniopharyngioma treatment to identify possible opportunities for improving the health care economics of inpatient care.

Methods

The authors analyzed the hospital discharge database of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) covering the period from 2007 through 2011 to examine national treatment trends for adults (that is, those older than 18 years) who had undergone surgery for craniopharyngioma. To predict the drivers of in-hospital charges, a multistep regression model was developed that accounted for patient demographics, acuity measures, comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and complications.

Results

The analysis included 606 patients who underwent resection of craniopharyngioma; 353 resections involved a transsphenoidal approach (58%) and 253 a transfrontal approach (42%). The mean age (± SD) of patients was 47.7 ± 16.3 years. The average hospital length of stay (LOS) was 7.6 ± 9 days. The mean hospital charge (± SD) was $92,300 ± $83,356. In total, 48% of the patients experienced postoperative diabetes insipidus or an electrolyte abnormality. A multivariate regression model demonstrated that LOS, hospital volume for the selected procedure, the surgical approach, postoperative complications, comorbidities, and year of surgery were all significant predictors of in-hospital charges. The statistical model accounted for 54% of the variance in in-hospital charge.

Conclusions

This analysis of inpatient hospital charges in patients undergoing craniopharyngioma surgery identified key drivers of charges in the perioperative period. Prospective studies designed to evaluate the long-term resource utilization in this complex patient population would be a useful future direction.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Alexander A. Khalessi and Neil A. Martin

encouraged to provide a detailed limitation section to provide critical context and nuance that may impact observations. The first few articles feature an overview on health care economics in general as well as costing methodology, providing readers with the knowledge and tools required to appraise published economic evaluations and to direct high-quality health care economics assessments (McLaughlin, Ong et al.). They also introduce the readers to a costing model that has gained worldwide popularity in health economics: time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC