Value-Driven Outcomes: A Program to Reduce Hospital Costs

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Using a software tool called value-driven outcomes; one doctor discovered her choice was ten times as expensive, with the same result. (KFSN)

Recently, a breast cancer surgeon at the University of Utah Hospital compared the cost of an intravenous drug she routinely ordered to a pill one of her colleagues' orders. Using a software tool called value-driven outcomes; she discovered her choice was ten times as expensive, with the same result. She immediately changed her practice. Here's how the three year old V.D.O program is saving the hospital millions of dollars and improving patient care.

John Schneider was one of the first patients to get his knee replaced under the University of Utah Hospital's value-driven outcomes, or V.D.O program. To improve his recovery and reduce costs, they got him moving hours after surgery.

"Right after supper, one of the physical therapists came down the hall and said, 'John, you're going to get out of bed.'" John explained to Ivanhoe.

Physical therapists now work evenings, because the V.D.O showed that starting rehab on surgery day saves as much as $700 a patient and improves recovery. V.D.O software analyzed 135 million rows of costs for billing, drugs, doctor and staff time, and medical devices for joint replacement, lab tests, and sepsis management. Doctors could now identify and compare true costs of care and saved seven to eleven percent in those areas.

Chris Pelt, MD, Chief Value Officer of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Utah Health Care said, "The cost curve in the United States health care always is on the rise. So to see a change of eleven percent going down in overall direct costs, which is pretty important, I think."

"We are seeing that we are able to save literally millions of dollars year after year as we continue to sort of find more ways to leverage the data to lead to better care." Dr. Bob Pendleton, Chief Medical Quality Officer at the University of Utah Health Care stated.

Dr. Pendleton says the cost cutting is improving patient care as well, by standardizing practices.

Dr. Pendleton continued, "Cost is an important part of the equation and one that's necessary for our overall University of Utah Hospital's economics. But this really is about better patient care."

The hospital is now working on putting 30 more clinical conditions into the V.D.O program.

Doctor Pendleton says the hospital has hosted leaders of academic medical centers who are trying to figure out how to apply principles of the V.D.O program at their hospitals and administrators from Singapore's largest health care system visited and are implementing their own version of a V.D.O system.

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