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Hospitals see higher supply-chain costs related to larger numbers of obese patients

Crain's Detroit Business—August 2, 2010

Some clinicians and policy experts feel that available data doesn't adequately reflect the costs of caring for obese patients. They say the CMS and other payers aren't capturing information that could more accurately reflect those costs.

The new International Classification of Diseases coding system—an update of the system used by providers and payers to identify diseases and conditions—set to take effect in 2013 should do a better job of capturing obesity-related healthcare costs. The broader use of electronic health records should also facilitate compiling such data.

Currently, however, efforts to win additional reimbursement appear hampered by a lack of published research comparing the care-episode costs of severely overweight patients to those healthy-weight patients who check into hospitals with identical conditions.

Michael Parks, a hip and knee surgeon with New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, has begun initial research comparing the outcomes and cost of care for obese orthopedic surgery patients to patients who aren't obese. He says he has been surprised by the dearth of prior research in this area.

"As we've looked at the work others have done, there's not been a lot of information, and what does exist is divergent in its findings," he says.

This story originally appeared at crainsdetroit.com.


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