Category Archives: Hospitals

BCBS of Massachusetts will pay to keep patients out of the hospital

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced this week that it is taking the radical step of paying to keep patients out of the hospital.

In a partnership with South Shore Health System in Weymouth, Mass., BCBSM will change the financial reward system so that it will tie payments to health system to its success in collaborating with physicians to improve quality, patient outcomes and costs for the patients they physicians and health system. Under BCBSM’s Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), the health insurer will reward the health system and physicians for their success in doing so, the two parties said in an Oct. 30 news release. Continue reading

How to discover and dissect surprise medical bills

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Kaiser Health News and NPR have been collaborating on a series called Bill of the Month. This piece by KHN’s Chad Terhune was one of the most memorable. Like many of these articles, it got results – the story got a ton of attention, outrage was generated and voila, the bill was lowered. It was cited by a bipartisan group of senators who introduced legislation curbing the practice of “surprise billing.”

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Tips for telling the stories of rural hospital closures

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Naoki Takano via Flickr

Bram Sable-Smith, who spent a year doing in-depth reporting on an endangered rural hospital in Pemiscot County, Mo., as part of an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, did a tip sheet on how to report on the threat to rural hospitals, in the context of a wave of closures. Continue reading

Surprising conclusions in a study of racial, socioeconomic disparities in U.S. hospitals

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Racial and socioeconomic disparities in outcomes among hospitalized patients?

Don’t blame the hospitals, say the authors of this JAMA Network Open study. They looked at factors that might underlie known divergences in health outcomes based on socioeconomic status and race or ethnicity, with a focus on heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. Their findings suggest that hospitals perform similarly across socioeconomic and ethnic groups but that something “systemic” must explain the differences among these populations. Continue reading

Report shows how hospital rating reports can meet patients’ needs more effectively

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched the Hospital Compare website to let consumers evaluate hospital performance based on a star-rating system. For those seeking to analyze hospitals’ overall scores, the site is useful but its one-size-fits-all approach limits how much patients can design searches to match their individual needs.

Now researchers at the Rand Corporation have built a tool called the Personalized Hospital Performance Report Card that allows users to review, customize, and compare hospitals across the United States and develop their own custom ratings based on their most important performance areas. Continue reading

Mississippi journalist’s reporting leads medical center to change billing practices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

In April, Anna Wolfe, who covers health care for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, started reporting on what appeared to be staggeringly high bills for using the emergency room at the Batson Children’s Hospital, in Jackson. The hospital is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the state.

Parents who brought their children to the ER were being charged thousands of dollars in unreasonable emergency room facility fees that do not match the level of care received, Wolfe reports. Since that article was published April 15, Wolfe has continued to cover the complex ways the hospital calculates its charges. In the bills Wolfe reviewed, the hospital adds facility fees for ER visits, fees that are based on the level of care administered. Continue reading