Six years ago, in The New Yorker, Atul Gawande, M.D., wrote a famous study of extreme healthcare cost and waste in impoverished McAllen, Texas. He recently returned to the Rio Grande Valley community and found huge changes, which came about, we should note, to a large extent because of his writing.
On his recent return, Dr. Gwande found:
Inpatient visits down 10 percent; home healthcare spending down 40 percent; ambulance rides down 40 percent, and cost per beneficiary down almost $3,000, resulting in nearly half a billion dollars saved in the area.
The five big lessons he saw, as described by Kavita Patel, M.D., managing director for clinical transformation at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Health Policy, and Frank McStay, a research assistant, Economic Studies, at the Center for Health Policy as reported in MedPage Today. (Their remarks originated as a Brookings Web site post.)
“Evidence is hard to ignore, especially if it is out in the open.”
“Physicians do not have all the right information.”
“Local clinical leadership and clinical knowledge are important in promoting health.”
“More evidence shows payment and delivery reforms may be working.”
“The biggest opportunities for cost reductions are with complicated patients.”