U.S. hospitals increased their productivity in treating Medicare patients for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia between 2002 and 2011, according to a new study published online by Health Affairs. After adjusting for trends in the severity of patients’ conditions and health outcomes, annual productivity growth over the period was 0.78% for heart attack, 0.62% for heart failure and 1.90% for pneumonia, the study found. "The pattern of growth documented here suggests that in recent years, hospitals have not suffered from a so-called cost disease, where heavy reliance on labor limits opportunities for efficiencies stemming from technological improvement," the authors said.