Cardiac Care - Focus on Heart Attack in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA - June 19, 1996 - The type of physician, as well as the number of patients a physician treats, may have a significant impact on the odds of surviving a heart attack, according to a new report issued today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Focus on Heart Attack in Pennsylvania, a comprehensive study of 40,000 1993 heart attack hospitalizations, reports that cardiologists had significantly lower patient mortality rates than other physician specialties treating heart attacks, and that physician practice groups that treated 30 or more heart attack cases had significantly lower patient mortality rates than groups treating less than 30 cases and solo practitioners, most of whom treated less than 30 cases in 1993. These findings could have important implications as preferred physician networks, especially with regard to specialist referrals, are developed in an increasingly managed care environment.

"As the health care delivery system changes dramatically, it will be increasingly important for those who consume, purchase and provide health care to understand the implications and consequences of those changes," stated Ernest J. Sessa, Executive Director of the Council. "This new report is an important step in helping the public understand what is going on, what's working, what's not, and raise important issues related to the restructuring of our health care system."

The study incorporates several "firsts".

Other Highlights of the Report

The second section reports risk-adjusted mortality and length of stay data for hospitals, as well as the average charge for treatment. Hospitals are divided into general acute care hospitals as well as those hospitals which also provide advanced cardiac care services such as catheterization, angioplasty and open heart surgery.

The third section includes risk-adjusted patient mortality rates for physician practice groups that treated 30 or more heart attack cases in 1993, as well as patient volume numbers for all attending physicians that treated heart attack cases.

The fourth section includes hospitalization and mortality data for every county in Pennsylvania as well as those communities with rates significantly above or below the state average. These rates are population-based, not hospital-specific.

The final section covers data by aggregate payor groups. It includes risk-adjusted mortality rates and lengths of hospital stays, average hospital charges, and levels of advanced cardiac procedures according to the following aggregate categories: Blue Cross indemnity plans, Commercial indemnity insurance plans, HMO/PPOs, Medicaid, Medicare, and Other ( government programs like CHAMPUS, some self-insured employers and health and welfare funds, associations, self-paying patients and patients without insurance).

"The Council's top priority is to develop ways to provide information to assess the dramatic changes in the health care delivery system, particularly the impact of managed care," said Mr. Sessa. "By including comparative data by payor type of risk-adjusted mortality, risk-adjusted length of stay, hospital charges and the level of received advanced cardiac services, this report begins that process and positions the Council to provide additional and more specific detail in future reports."

The report is being published in three regional versions: one each for Central and Northeastern PA, Southeast PA, and Western PA. A Technical Report, Hospital and Physician Practice Group Comments, and Research Methods and Results contain additional detail about the project and are also available from the Council upon request.

Heart Attack Information Tables Available:

Download Report

Research Methods and Results