Medical Lessons From The Big Mac

Startups thrive by treating specific illnesses or conditions

On two leased floors of St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Ind., Intensiva HealthCare takes on patients that most hospitals can't afford to keep. Ray Liggett, for one, has been hospitalized for a month with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. St. Francis lost money every day he took up one of its beds. But because Intensiva accepts only long-term acute cases and operates independently--though within St. Francis' walls, often using its staff--an insurance quirk allows it to collect higher reimbursement. Its costs, meanwhile, are 50% lower than those of a typical intensive-care ward.

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