Increased hospital payments linked to better heart attack outcomes: 4 things to know

Higher 30-day spending to care for Medicare beneficiaries who recently experienced a heart attack is linked to a slight reduction in patient mortality, according to a study and published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Researchers at the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center led the study.

Here are four things to know.

1. The study examined the relationship between 30-day episode spending for inpatient and post-discharge care and patient mortality following a patient's admission to a hospital for a heart attack.

2. The researchers used national Medicare claims data to analyze over 640,000 hospitalizations involving patients 65 years or older who were hospitalized for a heart attack at an acute care hospital between July 2011 and June 2014.

3. "Recent policy efforts have focused on improving the value of care, both in terms of total spending and patient outcomes," said senior corresponding author Robert Yeh, MD. "We need to understand whether programs like the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program are able to globally reduce spending and improve outcomes for acute conditions like [heart attacks], or whether the strong incentive to reduce hospital spending has unintended adverse consequences."

4. The study's findings also have significant implications for patient care, said first author Rishi Wadhera, MD. "While this study found that increased spending was associated with better outcomes, not all spending is of equal value and further research is needed to find out why higher-spending hospitals have better outcomes."

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