The latest Lown Institute report ranking hospitals on so-called “unnecessary” services contains many of the same flaws as last year’s report, says Aaron Wesolowski, AHA vice president of policy research, analytics and strategy.
“The fact is that hospitals, health systems, and their caregivers have been on the front lines from day one of the pandemic, providing care to all patients who walked through their doors, while facing unprecedented financial and operational challenges,” Wesolowski notes. “Throughout the pandemic, but especially in the early months, many non-essential services and procedures were put off due to government restrictions or voluntary actions from hospitals to make room for massive surges of COVID-19 patients. Studies have shown that these delays or sometimes even cancelations in non-emergent care have had some negative outcomes on the health and wellbeing of patients, who continue to show up at the hospital sicker and with more advanced illnesses. Many of these services may alleviate patients’ pain or provide other help to patients. Lown may define these services as “low value,” but they can be of tremendous value to the patients who receive them.
“In addition, this latest installment in Lown’s ongoing series of misleading reports has many of the same limitations and flaws as last year’s report on unnecessary services, including, but not limited to, the narrow focus on Medicare patients, use of only claims data and glaring gaps in the methodology.”