From 1993 to 1995, researchers at IHC Care, an integrated, multi-hospital, nonprofit health care system in Utah, examined the delivery of critical care medicine in a multi-hospital system and developed analytic models to determine the potential impact of regionalization.
At IHC, the severity of illness in intensive care units (ICU) is increasing, with implications for hospital costs and length of stay.
The larger hospitals within the system are already using an informal system of triage for different levels of critical care, especially in specific disease groups, such as head injuries; however, patient transfer is not always based on severity of illness, for reasons that are not yet understood.
Smaller hospitals within the system with very low volumes of ICU patients and lesser severity levels had worse patient outcomes than other facilities.
Reorganizing critical care could be a major factor in improving care for critically ill patients at IHC.
Improving the process of health care delivery influences outcomes in an intensive care unit favorably, while dramatically lowering costs.