The Economic Effect of a Tertiary Hospital-Based Heart Failure Program
OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to determine the economic effect of a tertiary heart failure (HF) program at an academic medical center.
BACKGROUND: Most hospitals use cross-sectional financial models to analyze the economic contribution of clinical programs for a budget period. We estimated the incremental value of a tertiary hospital HF program on the basis of the longitudinal utilization of a sample of HF patients.
METHODS: The primary data source was a sample of 82 HF patients referred for cardiac transplant evaluation at an academic medical center during calendar years 2000 to 2001. Cumulative recurrent rates of utilization, cost, and reimbursement for hospital services were computed as functions of time using reliability models. The economic contribution of patients transplanted was contrasted with those not transplanted.
RESULTS: Mean hospitalizations and outpatient encounters per patient at the end of the first year of follow-up for those transplanted were 2.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6 to 2.7) and 11.9 (95% CI 9.2 to 15.4), compared with 1.1 (95% CI 0.8 to 1.6) and 6.0 (95% CI 4.8 to 7.6), respectively, for those not transplanted. Mean revenue and direct cost per patient were $194,470 (95% CI $136,683 to $276,689) and $146,623 (95% CI $96,377 to $233,065), respectively, for transplanted patients and $43,587 (95% CI$28,149 to $67,503) and $33,424 (95% CI $21,584 to $51,760), respectively, for non-transplanted patients. The point estimates of first-year contribution margins per patient for transplanted and non-transplanted patients were $47,847 and $10,163, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Newly evaluated patients for cardiac transplantation at an academic medical center generated substantial incident demands for inpatient and outpatient services over a two-year follow-up period. The estimated contribution margin associated with these services was positive. Hospitals without cardiac transplantation that serve high-acuity HF patients may generate favorable long-term contribution margins, on the basis of the results for the non-transplant group.