Impact of a Cleft and Craniofacial Center on an Academic Health System

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Background:The contributions of all physician specialties and ancillary services involved in cleft and craniofacial center care must be evaluated to fairly assess the financial impact of a cleft and craniofacial center. The authors hypothesized that the cleft and craniofacial center generates profitable downstream productivity for the academic health system.Methods:This was a retrospective cohort study of all patients who presented to a cleft and craniofacial center in the first quarter of 2011. Analysis included all health system encounters for each patient over a 2-year period using the electronic medical record and health system financial database.Results:Sixty-two patients were seen (mean age, 11.4 years; 38 boys and 24 girls; 18 new and 44 established patients). Over 2 years, there were 618 health system encounters (599 outpatient and 19 inpatient encounters), 68 hospital days, and 110 procedures. The most common physician specialty was plastic surgery [312 encounters (50.5 percent)] and the most common ancillary service was speech therapy [256 encounters (41.4 percent)]. The overall reimbursement rate was 39.9 percent, with a majority payor-mix of government payors (62.1 percent). The total profit margin percentage from all encounters was 13.7 percent, which was greater for managed care compared with government payor (38.9 percent versus −10.8 percent; p = 0.022), inpatient compared to outpatient (24.5 percent versus −2.8 percent; p < 0.001), and plastic surgery compared to other specialty encounters (19.7 percent versus 8.7 percent; p = 0.003).Conclusions:The cleft and craniofacial center generated profitable downstream productivity for the academic health system with referrals to 39 different physician and nonphysician specialties. Health system providers and the business team should align to analyze the center, enhance patient outcomes, and improve specialty care access for patients.

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