Hospitals treating high number of heart failure patients see better outcomes than low-volume hospitals, but at higher cost for care

A new study co-authored by HSPH research fellow Karen Joynt found that hospitals treating a high number of patients suffering from heart failure—the most common cause of hospitalization for those over 65—save about 20,000 of these patients every year. The risk of dying during treatment for heart failure is two percent higher at a lower-volume hospital. But the better outcomes at higher-volume hospitals comes at an additional cost, an average of $1,200 per patient. With millions of patients suffering from heart failure every year, it’s a difference that quickly adds up, Joynt told Reuters.

The findings surprised the researchers, who expected to find that costs would be lower due to improved efficiency at facilities where higher numbers of heart failure cases were treated. “Maybe some of these chronic diseases are going to need us to spend more money to get better outcomes,” Joynt said.

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Department of Health Policy and Management