Monday, July 11, 2011

Spend to Save in Medical Care

When people get really sick, it is very expensive to care for them. So one way to cut health care costs is to keep people from getting really sick. That sounds a bit utopian, but there are ways to make this work. For example,
several Philadelphia hospitals have assigned nurse practitioners to organize the care of elderly patients with chronic illnesses after they were discharged. Readmission rates have dropped by more than a third and net expenditures by nearly 40 percent, despite the extra personnel costs.
Treating people in hospitals at great expense and then tossing them back out on the street is bad medicine and terrible policy. Follow up care is crucial, and when people are old and sick they often can't or won't get back to follow-up appointments, refill their prescriptions, and so on. So they get sick again. Sending nurses to check on them costs money, but it costs much less than re-admitting them to the hospital.

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