Hospital Stays Shown To Be Less Expensive, Shorter for Medicare Advantage Patients With Mental Health Issues

Issue 562
AHRQ News Now is a weekly newsletter that highlights agency research and program activities.
April 11, 2017

AHRQ Stats: National Health Care Spending

Of the $1.4 trillion spent on health care in 2013, about 38 percent of spending was for ambulatory care while about 28 percent was for hospital inpatient care and 22 percent was for prescription medicines. (Source: AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #491: National Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, Distributions by Type of Service and Source of Payment, 2013.)

Today's Headlines:

Hospital Stays Shown To Be Less Expensive, Shorter for Medicare Advantage Patients With Mental Health Issues

Hospital stays for mental health care were substantially less expensive and shorter for seniors with Medicare Advantage insurance coverage than for those with traditional Medicare in 2013, according to a new AHRQ study of more than 7.8 million hospitalizations in 22 states. The authors did not pinpoint a reason for the difference, but they suggested one factor might have been Medicare Advantage’s emphasis on providing outpatient treatment rather than more appropriate inpatient care. The study also found that Medicare Advantage hospital stays for surgery and injury were costlier and longer than traditional Medicare admissions. The costs and lengths of stay for medical admissions were comparable for the two Medicare programs, the study found. "Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare Hospitalization Intensity and Readmissions" was published March 8 in Medicare Care Research and Review. Access the abstract.

Highlights From AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network

AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network (PSNet) highlights journal articles, books and tools related to patient safety. Articles featured this week include:

Review additional new publications in PSNet’s current issue or access recent cases and commentaries in AHRQ’s WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web).

Electronic Health Record Trigger System Detects Delays in Treatment of Veterans Affairs Patients

An electronic health record system used in two large Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals detected 163 patients whose follow-up treatment was delayed despite abnormal test results for a thyroid-stimulating hormone. AHRQ-funded researchers developed and tested the trigger system that reviewed the records of nearly 300,000 patients being treated for hypothyroidism. Authors of the study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine concluded the trigger algorithm can support efforts to improve follow-up care. Access the abstract.

Register Now for April 19 and April 26 Webinars on Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project

Registration is open for a two-part webinar series on AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the nation’s most comprehensive source of hospital data. An April 19 webinar from 2 to 3 p.m. ET will introduce health services and policy researchers to nationwide and state-level databases and related resources that can enhance research studies.  An April 26 webinar from 2 to 3 p.m. ET will introduce attendees to a variety of products and tools, particularly the HCUPnet free online data query system. Access more information at the HCUP user support website. 

Enroll Now: TeamSTEPPS Office-Based Safety Course Awards Continuing Education Credits

Register now for AHRQ’s TeamSTEPPS for Office-Based Care pilot course, which focuses on enhancing communication and teamwork skills among office-based professionals to improve patient safety and quality. Participants may earn no-cost continuing education credits for each activity completed. Master Trainer certificates will be awarded for completing all course requirements.

New AHRQ Views Blog Post

New Research and Evidence From AHRQ

AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Interactional resources for quality improvement: learning from participants through a qualitative study. Brooks JV, Gorbenko K, Bosk C. Qual Manag Health Care 2017 Apr/Jun;26(2):55-62. Access the abstract on PubMed.

Usability evaluation of an emergency department information system prototype designed using cognitive systems engineering techniques. Clark LN, Benda NC, Hegde S, et al. Appl Ergon 2017 Apr;60:356-65. Epub 2017 Jan 3. Access the abstract on PubMed.

Physician perception of the role of the patient portal in pediatric health. Bush RA, Connelly CD, Pérez A, et al. J Ambul Care Manage 2017 Mar 27. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed.

Racial disparity in life expectancies and life years lost associated with multiple obesity-related chronic conditions. Chang SH, Yu YC, Carlsson NP, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed.

Comparison of methods of alert acknowledgement by critical care clinicians in the ICU setting. Harrison AM, Thongprayoon C, Aakre CA, et al. PeerJ 2017 Mar 14;5:e3083. Access the abstract on PubMed.

Exploring variation in transformation of primary care practices to patient-centered medical homes: a mixed methods approach. Lieberthal RD, Karagiannis T, Bilheimer E, et al. Popul Health Manag 2017 Jan 18. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed.

Implementing a pain self-management protocol in home care: a cluster-randomized pragmatic trial. Reid MC, Henderson CR Jr, Trachtenberg MA, et al. J Am Geriatr Soc 2017 Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed.

Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing: wind at our backs or flapping in the breeze? Hersh AL, Kronman MP. Pediatrics 2017 Mar 7. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed.

Contact Information

For comments or questions about AHRQ News Now, contact Bruce Seeman at or (301) 427-1998.

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Page last reviewed April 2017
Page originally created April 2017
Internet Citation: Hospital Stays Shown To Be Less Expensive, Shorter for Medicare Advantage Patients With Mental Health Issues . Content last reviewed April 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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