Improving Readiness and Reducing Costs: An Analysis of Factors That Influence Site Selection for Army Outpatient Surgical Services
The variable costs of providing surgical procedures for military beneficiaries are greater when care is rendered in the civilian purchased care network than when provided at a direct care military treatment facility (MTF). To reduce healthcare-related costs, retaining surgical services is a priority at MTFs across the U.S. Army Medical Command. This study is the first to identify factors significantly associated with outpatient surgical service site selection in the military health system (MHS). We analyzed 1,000,305 patient encounters in fiscal year 2014, of which 970,367 were direct care encounters and 29,938 were purchased care encounters. We used multiple binomial logistic regression to assess and compare the odds of site selection at a purchased care facility and an MTF. We found that an increase in provider administrative time (OR = 1.024, p < .001) and an increase in case complexity (OR = 1.334, p < .001) were associated with increased odds that an outpatient surgical service was provided in a purchased care setting. The increased odds that highly complex cases were seen in purchased care has the potential to affect the medical readiness of military providers and the efficacy of graduate medical education programs. Healthcare administrators can use the results of this study to develop and implement MTF level policies to enhance outpatient surgical service practices in the Army medical system. These efforts may reduce costs and increase military provider medical readiness.