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Longitudinal Trends in Costs for Hospitalizations at Children's Hospitals

Russell, H.; Hall, M.; Morse, R. B.; Cutler, G. J.; Macy, M.; Bettenhausen, J. L.; Lopez, M. A.; Shah, S. S.; Sills, M. R.

Hosp Pediatr. 2020 Aug 5; 10(9):797-801


OBJECTIVES: Children's hospitals are increasingly focused on value-based improvement efforts to improve outcomes and lower costs. Such efforts are generally focused on improving outcomes in specific conditions. Examination of cost drivers across all admissions may facilitate strategic prioritization of efforts. METHODS: Pediatric Health Information System data set discharges from 2010 to 2017 were aggregated into services lines and billing categories. The mean annual growth per discharge as a percentage of 2010 total costs was calculated for aggregated medical and surgical service lines and 6 individual service lines with highest rates of growth. The mean annual growth per discharge for each billing category and changes in length of stay was further assessed. RESULTS: The mean annual growth in total costs was similar for aggregated medical (2.6%) and surgical (2.7%) service lines. Individual medical service lines with highest mean annual growth were oncology (3.5%), reproductive services (2.9%), and nonsurgical orthopedics (2.8%); surgical service lines with highest rate of growth were solid organ transplant (3.7%), ophthalmology (3.3%), and otolaryngology (2.9%). CONCLUSIONS: Room costs contributed most consistently to cost increases without concomitant increases in length of stay. Value-based health care initiatives must focus on room cost increases and their impacts on patient outcomes.

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