After having worked at a hospital a few years while implementing Epic, I added all kinds of words to my healthcare industry vocabulary. Words like ‘chargemaster’ and ‘revenue cycle’ entered. A chargemaster is just that, a master list (a spreadsheet in my last employer’s place) that lists out in minute detail what each item such as a bed pan, a Tylenol pill, and procedures ‘cost’. I put cost in quotes b/c at the vast majority of hospitals in the US, the number attributed to the item in the chargemaster is not based on the actual cost to the facility.
Since we are in the middle of a massive transformation in healthcare in both delivery and policy, the true cost of delivering healthcare is more important than ever. Some hospitals and health systems have undertaken this herculean effort of retooling their chargemaster to more accurately reflect their actual costs. What they’ve found and the savings they have found is astounding.