Special report: Endoscopy, doing more for less

Special report: Endoscopy, doing more for less

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | March 18, 2014
Endoscopy International Day of Radiology 2012
ENDOEYE FLEX 3D Videoscope
Olympus Corporation of the Americas
From the March 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

When Olympus Corporation of the Americas sets out to develop endoscopy products they keep one concept at the forefront: to lower costs and improve outcomes. “That’s our first and foremost focus for all of our development process,” says David Colvin, director of marketing and surgical energy at Olympus.

But this is not something unique for original equipment manufacturers. Any OEM that wants to compete in the current marketplace must have the same mindset. The challenge for health care providers today is figuring out how to financially succeed in an era of growing patient demand and shrinking reimbursement.

“The entire health care world is moving toward a quality and cost driven system and I think the system as a whole is no longer willing to pay for expensive technology that don’t have proven benefits,” says Dr. Andrew Ross of Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center.

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Minimally invasive procedures have become the gold-standard for lowering costs and improving outcomes. Endoscopic devices are used in these procedures to make small incisions, allowing patients to leave hospitals sooner with fewer complications.

What’s up with reimbursement?
“The big words out today are value and quality and that brings in a combination of things together and it’s kind of a perfect storm,” says James Laskaris, senior analyst at MD Buyline.

Lowering costs and improving outcomes were always in the back of health care providers’ minds, but with the introduction of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ value-based purchasing and payfor- performance incentives, it’s now a top concern.

CMS created the programs in order to reward providers for enhancing quality and efficiency or penalize them for hospital readmissions and not meeting the program goals.

In the past, CMS paid providers a fixed amount for each procedure, but now the payment varies based on different factors. For example, 20 years ago, a hospital that delivered a baby would itemize everything they did during the procedure and get a bill, but now the insurance company varies the price depending on whether there were complications or not, says MD Buyline’s Laskaris.

Laskaris adds that endoscopic procedures improve quality of care by causing a lower chance of infection, less blood loss and recovery pain, a quicker recovery due to less tissue damage and a shorter length of stay. The hospitals save a significant amount of money since patients are not hospitalized for weeks, but they are also reimbursed more for ensuring better quality.

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