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Focus on high-cost patients is challenged


The mantra for the last few years among many healthcare policymakers has been the need to focus on high-cost patients when looking at ways to slow  healthcare costs. But in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors argue for taking a broader approach, especially for those in such relatively new payment models as Accountable Care Organizations.

J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., a professor of health policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Aaron L. Schwartz, Ph.D., a health economist at Harvard, write that more care coordination is essential and say that because system-wide changes may have varying cost structures, focusing on a specific patient  group might not be very effective in cutting overall system costs.

Among examples  they give of areas for cost-cutting not involving a patient-group-centered approach, they suggest developing  preferred networks of specialists or e-consulting systems that reduce unneeded referrals. They also said that providers could launch decision-support programs to cut the number 0f unneeded tests or prescriptions and improve triage to divert patients from emergency departments to outpatient clinics.

 To read their article, please hit this link.

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