Study: Surgeon scorecards reduce supply cost without affecting outcomes

A study, published in JAMA Surgery, examined the link between providing surgeons with individualized cost feedback and surgical supply costs in the operating room.

The study included surgeons from a multihospital health system, who were divided into intervention and control groups. The intervention group included 63 surgeons specializing in orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology–head and neck surgery and neurological surgery. The control group included 186 surgeons specializing in cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology and urology.

In the interventions group, each surgeon received standardized monthly scorecards that showed the median surgical supply direct cost for each procedure type compared to the surgeon's baseline from the years prior to the intervention. The scorecard also compared each surgeon's supply cost with all surgeons at the institution performing the same procedure at baseline. Additionally, surgical departments were eligible for a financial incentive if they reduced costs by 5 percent.

The median surgical supply direct costs per case decreased 6.54 percent for the intervention group — from $1,398 in 2014 to $1,307 in 2015. For the control group, median surgical supply direct costs per case increased by 7.42 percent, to $765 between 2014 and 2015.

During the one year study, the intervention group saw total savings of $836,147. After controlling for certain factors, the study shows a 9.95 percent surgical supply cost decrease for the intervention group over the study period. Patient outcomes remained the same or improved for the intervention group.

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