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Using market-segment targeting to cut costs

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Futurist Joe Flower asks if prevention actually saves the healthcare system money. He concludes in this piece: “The answer to our more targeted question is yes, there are multiple ways that we can keep the costs of disease down by providing earlier, better, smarter, more-efficient care — and we can and will discover those ways when we are more at risk for the overall health care costs of the people we serve.”

“If we are in any way at risk for the costs of their health care, the people we serve fall roughly into four categories:

  1. “Healthy people whom we would like to keep healthy, to keep them out of the more expensive categories.
  2. “People with undiscovered illnesses or risk factors that we would like to discover and treat, to keep them from migrating up the cost scale.
  3. “People with multiple chronic illnesses or major risk factors. These people likely are already in that top 5 percent or are apt to jump into it. We would hope to migrate them down the cost scale through some serious attention and careful medical management.
  4. “People with serious illness such as cancer, or major trauma. They are — and should be — in the top 5 percent.”

Mr. Flowers suggests costs can be contained by “a multi-pronged prevention strategy based on market segmentation, which I often call ‘targeting.”‘

This strategy would include:

* Encouraging healthy communities.

* Providing screening.

* Targeting high-risk groups.

* Building trust and direct human connection into  targeted programs.

* Targeting people with multiple chronic diseases.

* Building strong primary-care relationships.

* Changing practice and referral patterns.


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