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Guroo.com Shows Prices for Most Common Medical Diagnoses and Tests

A new web site, Guroo.com, is available for consumers to view the average cost for 70 of the most common healthcare conditions, ‘care bundles’, or tests. The average cost for each is available at the national, state, and local level.

Guroo is produced by the Health Care Cost Institute, an organization that collects data from the major private insurers, including Aetna, Assurant, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare. The average costs are based on what the insurance companies actually pay, not the provider ‘retail’ charges before any discounting that my be negotiated by individual insurers.

Costs of additional conditions, care bundles, and tests will be added in the future, including prescriptions costs. A Spanish language version is also in the works.

Guroo.com information is not yet available for individual providers nor does it currently link to any data on the quality of care. That may be added later as well.


Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) launches Guroo — to provide consumers with free access to a health care transparency tool. Health Care Cost Institute press release, Feb. 25, 2015. http://www.healthcostinstitute.org/news-and-events/health-care-cost-institute-hcci-launches-guroo-%E2%80%93-provide-consumers-free-access-healt

Hancock J. Attention, shoppers: prices for 70 health care procedures now online! Kaiser Health News, Feb. 25, 2015. http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/new-online-tool-gives-patients-insight-into-the-cost-of-medical-care/

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

Utilization of Intensive Care Services

In 2011, 27% of hospitals stays included intensive care unit charges, and the ICU charges accounted for nearly half [48%] of total hospital charges. Critical care costs have been rising for years. Between 2002 and 2009, critical care stays grew 3 times faster than the rate of hospital stays and without any increase in illness severity. The reason for the greater ICU utilization is unclear, according to a new AHRQ report, but it’s likely to get more attention because of the costs involved.

The report is based on an analysis of adult ICU utilization in general medical and surgical hospitals in 29 states in 2011. Here are other highlights from the study:

  • Hospital stays involving ICU care were 2.5 times more costly than other hospital stays.
  • The highest rate of ICU use — over 93% — was for respiratory disease with ventilator support.
  • Cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic conditions dominated types of stays with high ICU use.
  • Major complications or co-morbidities were associated with greater use of ICUs.
  • Greater ICU use was correlated with larger hospitals, large urban areas, for-profit hospitals, teaching hospitals, and hospitals with level I or II trauma centers.

Source: Barret ML and others. Utilization of intensive care services, 2011. HCUP Statistical Brief [Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project], no. 185, Dec. 2014. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb185-Hospital-Intensive-Care-Units-2011.pdf

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

Hospitalizations for Patients Aged 85 and Over in the United States, 2000-2010

The oldest adults — those aged 85 and over — represented 2% of the U.S. population in 2010 but accounted for 9% of all hospital discharges and 11% of inpatient days. As the population ages, it’s estimated that the 85+ age group will grow from 14% of the senior population in 2010 to over 21% by 2050. This demographic group will likely account for a greater share of hospital use and costs in the future. These are some of the findings from a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Other highlights from the report are:

  • The hospitalization rate for those 85 and older was 553 per 1000 population, over five times higher than the adults under age 65 group.
  • However, the age 85+ hospitalization rate declined by 9% between 2000 and 2010.
  • Unsurprisingly, the very old were less likely to be discharged home and more apt to die during the hospital stay.
  • In 2000 and 2005, pneumonia was the most frequent primary diagnosis for hospitalization among the very old, but in 2010 the most common diagnosis was congestive heart failure. While both pneumonia and congestive heart failure hospitalization rates declined between 2000 and 2010, septicemia and urinary tract infection hospitalization rates increased significantly for this age group.
  • Injury rates for those aged 85 or more, were 51 per 1000 population, with hip fracture the most common injury.

Source: Levant S; Karishma C; DeFrances CJ. Hospitalizations for patients aged 85 and over in the United States, 2000-2010. NCHS [National Center for Health Statistics] Data Brief, no. 182, Jan. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db187.pdf

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

FUTURE: Total hip replacements expected to increase

This is an intuitive conclusion — there are a growing number of older folks, therefore, barring a radical medical breakthrough, there will be a growing number of older hips to be replaced surgically.  These data from the National Center for Health Statistics (always one of my favorite data sources), quantify trends from 2000 to 2010 in numbers of total hip replacement procedures.  I know, I know, it’s 2015 already, but these are the most current numbers that are provided.

Here are some interesting data from this source.  Please note that these are INPATIENT procedures only.  I don’t know whether anyone is doing outpatient total hip replacements.  That would be an interesting thing for you to comment on, dear readers.  Is your hospital doing these procedures on an outpatient basis?

Total total hip replacements = 326,100 (patients of all ages in 2010)

Older total hip replacements = 310,800, or 95 percent (patients aged 45 or older in 2010)

Rates per 1,000 Population in Each Age Category in 2010

  • 1.17 total hip replacement procedures / 1,000 (population aged 45-54)
  • 2.53 /1,000 (population aged 55-64)
  • 4.12/1,000 (population aged 65-74)
  • 4.18/1,000 (population aged 75+)

Similar statistics are given for 2000, so it is possible to look at recent historical trends.

Source:Wolford, M.L., Palso, K., and Bercovitz, A. (2015, Feb.). Hospitalization for total hip replacement among inpatients aged 45 and over: United States, 2000-2010. NCHS Data Brief, 186, 1-7.  Click here for full text free: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db186.pdf  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

STAFFING: How many hospital security staff are needed?

Two quantitative models that can be used to estimate the number of full time equivalent (FTE) security staff in a hospital are given in this article based on a survey of members of the International Association of Healthcare Safety and Security (IAHSS).  One model calculates FTEs for hospital security personnel who are involved only in the basic functions of “patrol and response.”  The other model calculates FTEs for the total hospital security personnel (including broader functions than only patrol and response).  Factors that were found to be the most relevant in predicting hospital security FTEs include:

  • Whether there is a behavioral health unit on site
  • Number of security calls annually
  • Whether there is a level I trauma center
  • Number of total hospital beds

Source: Vellani, K.H., Emery, R.J., and Reingle, J.M. (2015). A data-driven model for estimating industry average numbers of hospital security staff. Journal of Healthcare Protection Management, 31(1), 51-63.  This is a members-only journal.  Click here for the publisher’s website: https://www.iahss.org/  Here is a link to a free full text copy of a 2012 article on a closely related subject by Vellani & Emery (Staffing benchmarks: how many security officers are enough?).  Click here: https://securityconsultants.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/jhpm-article.pdf   Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

Top Health Policy Think Tanks – 2014 Update

The latest annual  ranking of think tanks globally has been published by The Lauder Institute’s Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Trends in the world of think tanks are discussed. There are now 6,618 think tanks worldwide, with 1,830 of them located in the U.S.

Once again, the Brookings Institution tops the list as best overall think tank in the world.

According to the report, the top-rated think tanks worldwide on domestic health policy issues are:

  1. Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research [UK]
  2. RAND Corporation
  3. Brookings Institution
  4. Bloomberg School of Public Health Research Centers
  5. Fraser Institute [Canada]
  6. Center for American Progress
  7. Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy
  8. Cato Institute
  9. Urban Institute
  10. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  11. Mathematica Policy Research
  12. Center for Strategic and International Studies
  13. Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society [UK]
  14. Fundacion Mexicana para la Salud [Mexico]
  15. National Bureau of Economic Research

Also rated are the top thinks tanks for other areas of research and for special achievements, including:

  • International economic policy
  • Science and technology
  • Social policy
  • Best advocacy campaign
  • Best new idea or paradigm
  • Most innovative policy idea/proposal
  • Best policy study/report
  • Best think tank network
  • Best transdisciplinary research program
  • Best use of social networks
  • Best use of media
  • Most significant impact

Thinks tanks are ranked as well by affiliation categories: For-profit, government, university, and political party affiliation.

Source: 2014 Global go to think tank index report. Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, The Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2015. http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=think_tanks

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

How many hospitals have nurses on the governing board?

I found this intriguing table tucked away in an article that compared responses of nurse executives to surveys taken in 2011 and 2013.  The question was whether the institution has nurses on the governing board.  There is no aggregate statistic for hospitals as a group, but here are the responses for urban versus rural hospitals:


  • 65 percent yes (rural hospitals)
  • 62 percent yes (urban hospitals)

How do these percentages resonate with your experience at your hospital?

Source: Pittman, P., Bass, E., and Hargraves, J. (2015, Feb.). The future of nursing: Monitoring the progress of recommended change in hospitals, nurse-led clinics, and home health and hospice agencies. JONA. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 45(2), 93-99.  Click here to access publisher’s website:

http://journals.lww.com/jonajournal/Citation/2015/02000/The_Future_of_Nursing__Monitoring_the_Progress_of.8.aspx    Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org


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