Mass General Brigham eyes capacity management in effort to trim costs

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Easing capacity constraints is a key focus for Mass General Brigham as it works to trim operating costs through better use of its resources.

The Boston-based nonprofit system said Friday it has implemented real-time bed management, including efforts to more efficiently find inpatient beds for behavioral health patients to avoid long stays in the emergency department, and continues to integrate its clinical service lines.

Related: Mass General Brigham bets big on hospital-at-home

Mass General Brigham said it plans to launch a Patient Transfer and Access Center in October at its Somerville office to better coordinate care for patients and ensure they end up at the most appropriate sites. Staff from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital will form a centralized hub to manage transfers into and throughout the health system. Physicians can arrange transfers via phone calls to the center, which will use systemwide data to find availability.

The health system said 25% of its total transfer requests in 2022 were denied. It also found more than 3,000 overlapping requests, with employees often unaware of parallel efforts.

“We continue to face headwinds but are making progress in large part due to the steps we have taken to improve access and meet the capacity crisis by ensuring we care for patients at the right place, with the right services, and for the appropriate amount of time,” President and CEO Dr. Anne Klibanski said in a news release.

Mass General Brigham recently shared its plans to shift 10% of inpatient care to hospital-at-home in five years, depending on approval of Medicare reimbursements that would help enable the expansion. The system also cited its virtual urgent care program.

The system reported net income of $437.6 million in its fiscal third quarter ended June 30, compared with a nearly $949 million loss in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 15% to $4.89 billion and expenses increased 10.2% to $4.82 billion.

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Results benefited in part from a $206 million increase in patient care revenue and $514 million in premium revenue after the Mass General Brigham Health Plan on April 1 began managing the system’s accountable care organization through Massachusetts’ MassHealth program, adding about 164,000 MassHealth members.

Mass General Brigham isn’t the only nonprofit system showing improvement in its latest quarter. 

Earlier this week, Sacramento, California-based Sutter Health showed improvement in its second quarter, reporting net income of $265 million, a big jump from a net loss of $457 million in the year-ago period and largely driven by improved investment values. 

Operating expenses rose 6.6% to $3.78 billion, including a 6.7% increase for salaries and benefits and an 11.2% jump for supplies. Quarterly revenue grew 9% to $3.81 billion, including a $337 million increase from patient services.

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