Using Surgeon Scorecards To Drive Down Costs In the OR

Recent studies have shown a strong link between sharing pricing data with physicians and a resulting drop in case costs.  The latest study to show this link was recently published in March 2017 in JAMA.  According to JAMA, the OR Surgical Cost Reduction (OR SCORE) project was conducted in a single health system with multiple hospitals.  The study covered multiple departments in an urban academic setting and surgeons were spread across disciplines such as orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, and neurological surgery.

The study was conducted by giving participating surgeons a monthly scorecard that showed the supply costs of their surgeries during the month compared to their baseline that was measured over the prior 2 years and the average of all surgeons performing that same procedure.  The study also included a financial reward if they met a 5% reduction in cost goal during the study. Control group surgeons were not presented with scorecards but did receive the same financial incentive. 

During the year-long study, the results showed a significant reduction in supply costs without any evidence of an effect on patient outcomes. As this article by Jennifer Thew at HealthLeaders Media explains:

“The OR Surgical Cost Reduction project, a single-health system, multi-hospital, multi-departmental prospective controlled study, found that surgeons provided with cost feedback scorecards lowered their surgical supply costs by 6.5%.

Those who did not receive the scorecards showed a 7.4% increase in surgical supply costs…

After researchers controlled for surgeon, department, patient demographics, and clinical indicators, the intervention group showed a 9.95% decrease in surgical supply costs over the year…

Patient outcomes—30-day readmission, 30-day mortality, and discharge status—were equivalent or improved after the intervention, and surgeons who received scorecards reported higher levels of cost awareness compared to the control group.”

Read the entire article here: Surgeon Scorecards Lower Supply Costs

It’s hard to argue with results that show a nearly 10% drop in supply costs without affecting patient outcomes. The key to reproducing these results at your hospital is to have the cost scorecards in real-time with credible data.  Any slowness in providing the data, or doubt about the validity of the data will make it hard to reproduce these results.  Systems such as iRISupply can help gather the data and provide instantaneous, accurate feedback about supply costs used in procedures.