You’re probably used to seeing money-back warranties on big-ticket items like a computer, a car, or a new TV. What if you were offered a 90-day, money back warranty on your heart surgery? According to the Associated Press, one hospital in Pennsylvania believes offering a warranty on certain medical procedures could help patients recover faster, and save money! So far, statistics show the idea’s working.
To get the warranty, patients at the Geisinger Health System must agree to pay a flat fee for their heart bypass surgery, and for all pre-operative and post-operative care. Then, doctors must follow a checklist of procedures, which includes steps like: Giving antibiotics and blood thinners at a specific time before surgery, and calling patients after they leave the hospital, to make sure they’re following doctor’s orders. If the hospital fails to meet all 40 steps on the checklist, the surgery’s free. On the surface, the concept seems simple: If you suffer a complication because a doctor forgot to give you the right medication, then why should you have to pay? However, experts say the deeper goal here is to reward hospitals that put quality of care over quantity. Studies show that at least 35% of hospitalizations could be avoided if a patient got the right care the first time.
Unfortunately, experts say most of North America’s health care system is set up to reward the exact opposite. In other words: Doctors get paid more if they can see a patient over and over again. That’s why a growing number of hospitals are following the Geisinger business model - by putting doctors on a flat salary, and paying closer attention to how often they order unnecessary tests. Since the Geisinger warranty program started, re-hospitalizations for complications have fallen 40%! That’s why doctors are now considering expanding their warranty to include other procedures – like joint replacement and obesity surgery.