Research roundup: Does higher Rx drug spending lower Medicare costs?; Price transparency doesn't affect radiological decisions

Published on January 28, 2013 at 12:12 AM · No Comments

Each week, KHN reporter Alvin Tran compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs. 

Health Affairs: Regions With Higher Medicare Part D Spending Show Better Drug Adherence, But Not Lower Medicare Costs For Two Diseases – Researchers aimed to find a relationship between geographic variation in Medicare Part D spending and medication-taking behavior among patients with diabetes or heart failure. "If systematic regional differences do exist, then policy makers can use this information to better target interventions designed to improve the quality and efficiency of Medicare service delivery," they write. After analyzing 2006 and 2007 data, they concluded: "We found that beneficiaries residing in areas characterized by higher adjusted drug spending had significantly more 'therapy days'-;days with recommended medications on hand-;than did beneficiaries in lower-spending areas. However, we did not find that this factor translated into short-term savings in Medicare treatment costs for these two diseases (Stuart, Shoemaker, Dai and Davidoff, 1/2013).

Journal of the American College of Radiology: Provider Cost Transparency Alone Has No Impact on Inpatient Imaging Utilization
The researchers write: "Using data from fiscal year 2007, the 10 most frequently ordered imaging tests [at Johns Hopkins Hospital] were identified." From Nov. 2009 to May 2010, they showed the prices of five of the tests and did not show them for the other five to the radiologists ordering the tests. They found that "the mean utilization change was +2.8 ± 4.4% for the active group and −3.0 ± 5.5% for the control group, with no significant difference between the two groups. There was also no significant difference in the correlation between test cost and utilization change ... Provider cost transparency alone does not significantly influence inpatient imaging utilization" (Durand, Feldman, Lewin and Brotman, 1/2).

Journal Of Nursing Care Quality: Early-Career Registered Nurses' Participation In Hospital Quality Improvement Activities – According to the authors, health care leaders and experts agree that engaging registered nurses (RNs) in quality improvement (QI) efforts is essential to improving the nation's health care system. Researchers compared the participation levels in QI activities between early-career registered nurses from 15 states – one cohort licensed to practice 2004-2005 and the other 2007-2008. "We found no statistically significant differences in QI participation between the 2 cohorts, with the exception of their reported use of appropriate strategies to improve hand-washing compliance to reduce nosocomial infection rates," the authors write. "We believe that these findings are significant because they highlight the need to increase mobilization of RNs for QI," they conclude (Djukic, Kovner, Brewer and Bernstein, 1/2013).

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