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Heart surgery programs fight for market share

The number of cardiac bypass procedures peaked in 1997 and has been decreasing since.  This study of Medicare claims data analyzed the creation of new cardiac surgery programs in recent years and took a look at whether the new programs improve patient access to care.  The number of cardiac surgery programs increased by about one-third between 1993 and 2004 — most of them opening within 30 miles of an existing program and over half within 10 miles of a competitor.  Not surprisingly, there was a greater increase of new programs in states with no certificate of need.  The authors note that some new cardiac surgery programs — primarily those in rural areas — did, no doubt, improve patient access to care.  Likewise, they mention that some hospitals added open heart surgery capacity in order to be able to do interventional cardiology procedures, which would be beneficial to heart attack patients.  However, they conclude that there is “substantial evidence of duplication of services in highly competitive markets.”

Source: Lucas, F.L., and others.  New cardiac surgery programs established from 1993 to 2004 led to little increased access, substantial duplication of services.  Health Affairs;30(8):1569-1574, Aug. 2011.  Click here: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/8/1569.abstract  Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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