Should hospitals face more scrutiny before offering new surgeries?

by Sabriya Rice

Source: Modern Healthcare

Hospitals wanting to delve into new areas of surgical specialty should face tougher scrutiny before being allowed to launch a new program, some health quality and policy leaders say.

As the U.S. healthcare landscape advances toward rewarding quality rather than quantity, just buying a new high-tech surgical tool or hiring skilled surgeons may not be enough to support offering the new service. Facilities should more frequently be asked to prove not only the ability to achieve good clinical outcomes, but that there is a community demand for the service in the first place, they say.

In an environment where facilities aim to maximize revenue and where they get paid from third-party reimbursements, the launch of new surgical programs could result from all the wrong reasons, says Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Health Policy Analysis, a Dallas, Texas-based think-tank.

“They don't establish them because they have a competitive advantage or are especially skilled in the area,” he says. But rather, “because there are patients who have insurance that will reimburse for these lucrative services.” If hospitals don't compete on price, they probably don't compete on quality either, he said.