Article | Accounting Horizons | June, 2014

Better Accounting Transforms Health Care Delivery

by Robert S. Kaplan and Mary L. Witkowski

Abstract

The paper describes the theory and preliminary results for an action research program that explores the implications from better measurements of health care outcomes and costs. After summarizing Porter's outcome taxonomy (Porter 2010), we illustrate how to use process mapping and time-driven activity-based costing to measure the costs of treating patients over a complete cycle of care for a specific medical condition. With valid outcome and cost information, managers and clinicians can standardize clinical and administrative processes, eliminate non-value added and redundant steps, improve resource utilization, and redesign care so that appropriate medical resources perform each process step. These actions enable costs to be reduced while maintaining or improving medical outcomes. Better measurements also allow payers to offer bundled payments, based on the costs of using efficient processes and contingent on achieving superior outcomes. The end result will be a more effective and more productive health care sector. The paper concludes with suggestions for accounting research opportunities in the sector.

Keywords: Activity Based Costing and Management; Research; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry;

Citation:

Kaplan, Robert S., and Mary L. Witkowski. "Better Accounting Transforms Health Care Delivery." Accounting Horizons 28, no. 2 (June, 2014): 365–383.