Study: U.S. Could Reduce Costs with Greater Focus on “High-Need” Patients

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<p>A new study examining the health care experiences of older, sicker adults in nine high-income countries concludes that the United States in particular would reap long-term cost benefits from targeted policies that reduce financial barriers to primary care within this population and promote better care management.</p><p>The Commonwealth Fund’s Dana O. Sarnak and Jamie Ryan analyzed international survey data to investigate health care use, quality, and experiences among older adults with multiple chronic conditions or difficulties with activities of daily living—a population that accounts for a disproportionately large share of national health spending. The authors found that across all the countries studied, such “high-need” patients use more health services than other older adults, including treatment in a hospital emergency department for conditions that could be addressed by a primary care doctor. In the U.S. and Canada, about one of five high-need patients reported an avoidable ED visit.</p>
<p>In addition, a lack of coordination in the care that many high-need patients receive may be leading to overuse of some services, like lab tests and medical imaging, the researchers say.</p> Read the brief