Hospitals that spend more on emergency care, not long-term care, report better outcomes

A new study from MIT economists has found hospitals that invest more in emergency care yield better patient outcomes than those who rely more on long-term care.

The study tracked over 1.5 million patients at least 66 years old from 2002 to 2011 and looked at their mortality statistics within one year after a hospital visit. There was an average 90-day care cost of $27,500 for patients in the study. The authors found that for every $8,500 increase in emergency care funding  there was a 2 percent decrease in mortality rate. The study also found a 5 percent increase in mortality rates for hospitals that have above average spending rates for downstream nursing facilities.

"We find that patients who go to hospitals that rely more on skilled nursing facilities after discharge, as opposed to getting them healthy enough to return home, are substantially less likely to survive over the following year," says Joseph Doyle, PhD, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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