I thought I might get someone questioning this data so I asked the source (an American MD who leads one of the major tech/software projects over there but is US-based) who is very knowledgeable of the Denmark success story. Here was his verbatim response... "the average number of days went down, the number of beds went down in percent even more than hospital . This is happening today in Geisinger and Kaiser as well with PCMH [my note: PCMH = patient centered medical home] level care better upstream care, care coordination of chronic disease, lower downstream need for beds. In addition this is impacted by ambulatory surgery and a program like that tried by Advocate in Chicago of hospital at home with remote monitoring and video conference-ing. this is our future for sure much safer, less wasteful but the key is the hospital bed is seen as a failure and is a cost center not a profit center.
in the USA the average length of stay is 6.7 days -- Denmark 3.9. Cost per hospital stay in Denmark $6,700 in the USA $19,456. We have to use dialyze twice as often. but with higher mortality rates and lower life expectance for the disease that require dialyze for example.
[Ref: Widespread Adoption of Information Technology in Primary Care Physician Offices in Denmark: A Case Study, Denis Protti and Ib Johansen, Issues in International Health Policy, March 2010]
There's an interesting parallel with Deming's work with the auto industry. An American idea gets ignored by Americans so it's taken abroad and implemented with gusto. In Deming's case, Toyota et al embraced it and then it took Detroit 30+ years to catch up. Likewise, the PCMH concept originated in the US in 1967 and Denmark adopted it. 40+ years later, Denmark is spending far less and getting far more and we (Americans) are playing catchup.
As Ben Franklin said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It certainly applies to medicine. In the US, it's a shame to say that it's more lucrative for a MD to amputate a diabetics leg than it is to care for him in his chronic condition and avoid that from ever needing to happen.