As reported in STAT last month, in fiscal year 2017 Brigham and Women's Hospital embarked on a $150 million cost-cutting initiative. This is just one slice of Partners HealthCare's overall forward-looking effort to reduce our operating budget by $500 million. The centerpiece of the initiative, which is still underway at the Brigham, was a voluntary retirement plan offered to 1,000 senior employees—accepted by 800, a remarkably high rate.

The cost-saving effort was initiated by the Brigham—and subsequently across Partners—partially in response to harsh fiscal realities we face, from an uncertain public policy environment and volatile payment market to the increasing costs of chronic disease. And we are not alone; institutions across the country, from the Mayo Clinic to the Cleveland Clinic, have undertaken similar belt-tightening initiatives. Moreover, the focus on costs aligns with Partners' system-wide strategic imperative to shift care delivery from volume-based to value-based care. This shift in emphasis is reflected in innovative programs at the Brigham, Massachusetts General Hospital, and beyond. 

And no options are left unexplored. Upon discovering that the pricier mattress pad did not enhance patient care, the Brigham agreed to join its colleagues in adopting the new pad—resulting in roughly $400,000 in savings. In this new environment, "the way we've always done it" is no longer reason enough; patient value must drive everything we do, from the bedside to the bench. 

By instituting operational efficiencies like the one described above, along with continuous improvement programs that help us see care through new lenses, we're helping to ensure that efforts to contain costs not only result in a healthier bottom line at our hospitals, but healthier outcomes for patients as well.

Read the full STAT article here.

Photo by Aram Boghosian