Data allow for comparison to Phoebe prices

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

ALBANY, Ga. -- Data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website indicates that prices at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were lower during Fiscal Year 2011 in many cases when compared to Georgia and national averages.

New data available through www.cms.gov allows consumers to compare charges of hospitals within area, state and national markets. In the database, the public can sort prices based on the top 100 inpatient and 30 outpatient diagnostic-related groups, or DRG, codes nationwide -- which are used to classify each admission by a specific diagnosis.

A listing of Phoebe's top 10 DRGs shows that the state averages for each were higher than at the Albany hospital in six categories and on the national level higher in nine of the 10 categories. The most common procedure was a major joint (hip) replacement, for which the average charge at Phoebe was $42,532.

The Georgia's average charge for the same procedure was $46,856, and the national average was $50,105, the data show.

Next on the list was heart failure and shock with a pre-existing condition that affects the patient's care or length of stay, for which Phoebe's average charge was $14,808 during FY 2011. The state and national averages were $19,586 and $25,113, respectively.

The report was presented to Phoebe's board of directors at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday. Hospital officials said the data refute contentions that the hospital's prices are the highest in the state.

"We have known for many years that we are below the national and state averages," said Kerry Loudermilk, chief financial officer at Phoebe. "(The data released) confirms what we have already known. The data is what it is and people are going to think what they want to think.

"The board has long held that (our prices) ought to be close to the median. I don't see any reason why they would change that policy."

The information is accessible at http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/index.html.

Also on the board's agenda was approval of the hospital's 2011 Form 990, which gives a financial outlook on Phoebe during the period of Aug. 1, 2011 to July 31, 2012. The form is expected to be posted to the hospital's website, www.phoebeputney.com, in the coming days.

A community needs assessment and implementation plan compiled over the course of more than a year was also presented to the board Wednesday. A draft of the needs assessment and the plan was reviewed by the hospital's community benefits committee on May 23, at which time the committee voted unanimously to send it to the full board for final approval.

As part of a new requirement from the Internal Revenue Service, Phoebe has until the end of its fiscal year -- which is July 31 -- to complete a needs assessment and have it approved by the board. The assessment is slated for a vote at the board's July meeting.