More Lab Tests Ordered At Teaching vs Non-Teaching Hospitals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Victoria Valencia, MPH Assistant Director for Healthcare Value Dell Medical SchoolThe University of Texas at Austin

Victoria Valencia

Victoria Valencia, MPH
Assistant Director for Healthcare Value
Dell Medical SchoolThe University of Texas at Austin

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We were surprised to find that despite the common anecdote that resident physicians in teaching environments order more lab tests, there was a lack of empirical data to support the claim that more lab tests are ordered for patients at teaching hospitals than at non-teaching hospitals. Our study of 43,329 patients with pneumonia or cellulitis across 96 hospitals  in the state of Texas found that major teaching hospitals order significantly more lab tests than non-teaching hospitals.  We found this to be true no matter how we looked at the data, including when restricting to the least sick patients in our dataset. We also found that major teaching hospitals that ordered more labs for pneumonia tended to also more labs for cellulitis, indicating there is some effect from the environment of the teaching hospital that affects lab ordering overall.

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Dr. Barbara McAneny, Value-Based Care Pioneer, First Oncologist Named As Incoming AMA President

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Barbara L. McAneny MD, CEO New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants, Ltd. Albuquerque, NM 87109

Dr. McAneny

Barbara L. McAneny MD, CEO
New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants, Ltd.
Albuquerque, NM 87109 

MedicalResearch.com:   What is the meant by value-based care?

Response: There are a lot of people using this term to mean a variety of things, confusion is not surprising.  Generally it means a move to pay more for better patient outcomes and less for worse patient outcomes.  Currently in our Fee for Service system, there are a lot of services for which there are no fees. That deficiency keeps physicians from looking at non face-to-face delivery methods or the use of other health professionals to augment the care they give, because we can’t afford to give services that we aren’t paid to give.

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Employer Health Plans Spend At Least $6 Billion Per Year On Preterm Infant Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Scott D. Grosse, PhD National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities CDC 

Dr. Scott Grosse

Scott D. Grosse, PhD
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
CDC 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2007 published estimates of the economic costs associated with preterm birth. That report is publicly available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20669423. The total societal cost over a lifetime of a single year’s cohort of infants born preterm was estimated as $26 billion in 2005 US dollars. The study in Pediatrics sought to provide more current estimates of one component of those costs: medical care between birth and 12 months and to answer two additional questions:

  1. What costs are specifically incurred by employer-sponsored private health plans?
  2. How much of the overall cost burden of prematurity is attributable to infants born preterm with major birth defects (congenital malformations and chromosome abnormalities)?

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Coordination Program Reduced ER Visits and Readmissions in Medicaid Population

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Roberta Capp MD Assistant Professor Director for Care Transitions in the Department of Emergency Medicine University of Colorado School of Medicine Medical Director of Colorado Access Medicaid Aurora Colorado

Dr. Capp

Roberta Capp MD
Assistant Professor
Director for Care Transitions in the Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Medical Director of Colorado Access Medicaid
Aurora Colorado

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Medicaid clients are at highest risk for utilizing the hospital system due to barriers in accessing outpatient services and social determinants.

We have found that providing care management services improves primary care utilization, which leads to better chronic disease management and reductions in emergency department use and hospital admissions.

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Financial Distress Common Among Cancer Patients, Especially Underinsured

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD Duke Radiation Oncology Duke School of Medicine

Dr. Chino

Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD
Duke Radiation Oncology
Duke School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The financial burden of cancer treatment is a growing concern. Out-of-pocket expenses are higher for patients with cancer than for those who have other chronic illnesses. Fifty percent of elderly cancer patients spend at least 10% of their income on treatment-related out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, high financial burden is associated with both increased risk of poor psychological well-being and worse health-related quality of life. A cancer diagnosis has been shown to be an independent risk factor for declaring personal bankruptcy, and cancer patients who declare personal bankruptcy are at greater risk for mortality. These potentially harmful outcomes resulting from financial burden have been recognized as the financial toxicity of cancer therapy, analogous to the more commonly considered physical toxicity.

We conducted an IRB approved study of financial distress and cost expectations among patients with cancer presenting for anti-cancer therapy. In this cross-sectional, survey based study of 300 patients, over one third of patients reported higher than expected financial burden. Cancer patients with highest financial distress are underinsured, paying nearly 1/3 of income in cancer-related costs. In adjusted analysis, experiencing higher than expected financial burden was associated with high/overwhelming financial distress (OR 4.78; 95% CI 2.02-11.32; p<0.01) and with decreased willingness to pay for cancer care (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.95, p=0.03).

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Changes in Hospital Inpatient Stays Over Ten Years: Less Cardiac Care, More Mental Health and Sepsis Admissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ruirui Sun, Service Fellow, Economist
Center for Delivery, Organization and Markets
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hospital inpatient care has experienced changes due to factors such as population growth, rising of prevalence of chronic disease and efforts to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations. We generated information from the National Hospital Utilization and Costs path on Fast Stats (https://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/faststats/landing.jsp ), to present the trends on national hospitalization and costs from 2005 to 2014, as well as the most common diagnoses among inpatient stays over the 10-year period.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

  • Between 2005 and 2014, the inflation-adjusted mean cost per inpatient stay increased by 12.7 percent, from $9,500 to $10,900.
  • Inflation-adjusted cost per stay for patients covered by private insurance or Medicaid increased 16-18 percent. Cost per stay for Medicare-covered patients and the uninsured changed minimally.
  • The rate of inpatient stays decreased the most among patients in the highest income quartiles (15-20 percent decrease).
  • The proportion of Medicaid-covered inpatient stays increased by 15.7 percent, whereas the proportion paid by private insurance and that were uninsured decreased by 12.5 and 13.0 percent, respectively.
  • Mental health/substance use accounted for nearly 6 percent of all inpatient stays in 2014, up 20.1 percent from 2005.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, septicemia and osteoarthritis became two of the five most common reasons for inpatient stays. Septicemia hospital stays almost tripled.
  • Nonspecific chest pain and coronary atherosclerosis decreased by more than 60 percent from 2005 to 2014, falling off the list of top 10 reasons for hospitalization. 

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Moral Hazard Encourages Consumers To Choose More Expensive Treatment Options

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nitin Mehta PhD Associate Professor in Marketing Rotman School

Dr. Mehta

Nitin Mehta PhD
Associate Professor in Marketing
Rotman School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The focus of this paper is an investigation of the increase in health care costs associated with chronic disease in the context of consumers enrolled in employer sponsored insurance plans. Chronic illnesses – including conditions such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and kidney disease – account for nearly 75 percent of health care expenditures in the U.S. Treatments vary widely in terms of cost and impact: expensive “frontier” treatments provide the best outcome for only the seriously ill, while cheaper, established treatments prove effective for most other patients. As an example, the annual cost to an insurer for “biologics” – novel genetically modified protein drugs – is upwards of $20,000, while the more established drug – methotrexate – costs only $1,000 a year.

We investigate whether a part of the increase in healthcare costs stems from consumers opting for the more expensive treatments even when the lesser expensive treatments may have worked well. To do so, we examined data from a health insurer in the United States on the insurance plan and treatment options for 3,000 chronically ill patients over a three year period.

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Study Finds Disconnect Between Price and Quality in Health Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Eric Roberts, PhD

Post-doctoral fellow
Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Increasing consolidation of health care providers has raised regulatory concerns that less competition will lead to higher health care prices and possibly lower quality care for patients. On the other hand, some industry observers have contended that larger and higher-priced practices are better able invest in systems to support care management, and ultimately, better patient care. In this study, we examined whether larger and higher-priced physician practices provided better and more efficient care to their patients.

Higher-priced physician groups were paid an average of 36% more by commercial insurers, and were substantially larger than lower-priced practices located within the same geographic areas. Despite large differences in practices’ prices and size, we found few differences in their patients’ quality and efficiency of care. For example, when we compared patients who received care in high-priced versus low-priced practices, we found no differences in patients’ overall care ratings, physician ratings, access to care, physician communication, and use of preventive services. We also found no differences in patients’ hospital admissions or total spending, suggesting that higher-priced practices were not managing their patients’ care more efficiently than their lower-priced counterparts.

We did find that patients in higher-priced practices were more likely to receive recommended vaccinations, review of their medications, and results of medical tests, and that they spent less time in the waiting room for a scheduled doctor’s appointment. However, once practice prices exceeded the average for their geographic area, we observed no further gains in quality on most of these measures.

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Economic Evaluation of a Home-Based Age-Related Macular Degeneration Monitoring System

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
John Wittenborn

Senior research scientist
NORC’s Public Health Analytics
University of Chicago

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:The emergence of anti-VEGF treatment for wet-form AMD (choroidal neovascularization) has had a dramatic impact on preserving vision for many Americans. However, community-based studies show that most patients are not diagnosed with wet-form AMD until they have already lost a significant, and largely unrecoverable amount of their vision.  Early detection of wet-form AMD is key to effective treatment and the preservation of vision. The ForeseeHome telemonitoring technology provides patients with a means to check their own eyes on a daily basis to detect the earliest signs of vision loss from wet-form AMD.

This is a novel technology that has the potential to improve visual health outcomes for AMD patients.  A prior clinical trial (the AREDS-2 HOME study) demonstrated that this technology can detect wet-form AMD earlier, and with less vision loss than standard care alone. However, that is exactly where that study ended as it reported no cost information nor follow-up. Since the end of this study, the device has been cleared by the FDA and approved for reimbursement by Medicare for certain higher risk patients, but no study has yet considered the long-term implications of adoption of this technology.

In our analysis, we use a computer simulation model to essentially estimate what will come next, after patients realize earlier detection of wet-form AMD by utilizing home monitoring. Basically, we follow simulated patients from the time they begin monitoring for the rest of their lives, recording the likely impacts of home monitoring on patients’ long term outcomes including visual status, costs and quality of life.

We find that home telemonitoring among the population indicated for reimbursement by Medicare would cost $35,663 per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained.  Medicare would expect to incur $1,312 in net budgetary costs over 10 years for each patient who initiates monitoring.  However, Medicare patients may expect to achieve lifetime net savings when accounting for the chance of avoided vision loss and its associated costs later in life.

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Heart Disease Costs Expected To Top $1Trillion Per Year By 2035

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Olga Khavjou RTI International

Olga Khavjou

Olga Khavjou
RTI International

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States and is one of the costliest chronic diseases. As the population ages, CVD costs are expected to increase substantially. To improve cardiovascular health and control health care costs, we must understand future prevalence and costs of CVD.

In 2015, 41.5% (more than 100 million people) of the U.S population was estimated to have some form of CVD. By 2035, the number of people with CVD is projected to increase to over 130 million people, representing a 30% increase in the number of people with CVD over the next 20 years. Between 2015 and 2035, real total direct medical costs of CVD are projected to more than double from $318 billion to $749 billion and real indirect costs (due to productivity losses) are projected to increase from $237 billion to $368 billion. Total costs (medical and indirect) are projected to more than double from $555 billion in 2015 to $1.1 trillion in 2035.

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Diabetes Most Expensive Health Care Condition in US

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph Dieleman, PhD Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation | University of Washington Seattle, WA 98121

Dr. Joseph Dieleman

Joseph Dieleman, PhD
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98121

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The objective of this study was to provide a estimate of total health care spending in the United States for an exhaustive list of health conditions, over an extended period of time – from 1996 to 2013. The study primarily focuses on personal health spending, which includes both individual out-of-pocket costs as well as spending by private and government insurance programs on care provided in inpatient and outpatient facilities, emergency departments, nursing care facilities, dentist offices, and also on pharmaceuticals. There were 155 conditions included in the analysis, and spending was also disaggregated by type of care, and age and sex of the patient.

In 2013, we accounted for $2.1 trillion in personal health spending in the U.S. It was discovered that just 20 health conditions made up more than half of all dollars spent on health care in the U.S. in 2013, and spending for each condition varied by age, sex and type of care. Diabetes was the most expensive condition, totaling $101 billion in diagnoses and treatments, growing at an alarmingly rate – a 6.5% increase per year on average.

Ischemic heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S., ranked the second most expensive at $88.1 billion, followed by low back and neck pain at $87.6, treatment of hypertension at $83.9 billion, and injury from falls at $76.3.

Women aged 85 and older spent the most per person in 2013, at more than $31,000 per person. More than half of this spending (58%) occurred in nursing facilities, while 20% was expended on cardiovascular diseases, 10% on Alzheimer’s disease, and 7% on falls. Men ages 85 and older spent $24,000 per person in 2013, with only 37% on nursing facilities, largely because women live longer and men more often have a partner at home to provide care.

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Cancer Can Mean High Out-of-Pocket Expenses For Seniors With Only Medicare

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Amol K. Narang, MD Instructor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Amol  Narang

Dr. Amol K. Narang, MD
Instructor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We know that cancer care is becoming increasingly expensive in the U.S., but the financial impact on patients in the form of out-of-pocket expenses is not well understood, in part because of the lack of data sources that track this information. As such, we used the Health and Retirement study, a national panel study that closely tracks the out-of-pocket medical expenditures of older Americans, to understand the level of financial strain that Medicare patients experience after a new diagnosis of cancer. We further investigated what factors were associated with high financial strain and what type of health services were driving high costs in this population.

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Autoimmune Specialty Drug Spending Doubles, Accounting for 10 Percent of Drug Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kevin Bowen MD MBA Senior Health Outcomes Researcher Prime Therapeutics LLC 1305 Corporate Center Drive Eagan, MN 55121

Dr. Kevin Bowen

Kevin Bowen MD MBA
Senior Health Outcomes Researcher
Prime Therapeutics LLC
1305 Corporate Center Drive
Eagan, MN 55121

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

• Autoimmune specialty drugs now account for about one of every 10 dollars of combined drug expense through the medical and pharmacy benefits in a commercially insured population.
• The autoimmune drug class is one of the fastest growing, with this study finding a doubling in autoimmune drug expenditures and a 38 percent increase in utilization, in the most recent four years.
• Integrated analysis of medical and pharmacy claims is essential for this category of drugs because more than 25 percent of autoimmune specialty drug use is paid through the medical benefit and medical claims diagnosis coding provides a means of determining what conditions were treated with drugs covered by pharmacy claims.
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Advantaged Patients Receive More Low-Value Medical Services

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rachel O. Reid MD MS
Associate Physician Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Waste in the US health care system is both common and expensive, estimated to be in the range of $750 billion annually. Contributing to this waste is over-treatment and use of low value services that offer little or no clinical benefit to patients.

We studied 1.46 million adults from across the US with commercial insurance and found that spending on 28 low value services totaled $32.8 million in 2013, accounting for 0.5% of their medical spending or $22 per person annually.

The most commonly received low-value services included hormone tests for thyroid problems, imaging for low-back pain and imaging for uncomplicated headache. The greatest proportion of spending was for spinal injection for lower-back pain at $12.1 million, imaging for uncomplicated headache at $3.6 million and imaging for nonspecific low-back pain at $3.1 million.

Low-value spending was lower among patients who were older, male, black or Asian, lower-income or enrolled on consumer-directed health plans, which have high member cost-sharing.

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Outpatient Diuretic Protocol Can Keep Some Heart Failure Patients Out of Hospital

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leo F. Buckley, PharmD Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia

Dr. Leo Buckley

Leo F. Buckley, PharmD
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: As the prevalence and costs of heart failure are expected to increase through the year 2030, significant efforts have been devoted towards devising alternatives to inpatient hospitalization for the management of heart failure decompensations. Since loop diuretics are the mainstay of treatment during the majority of hospitalizations, administration of high doses of loop diuretics in the outpatient setting has increased in popularity.

We intended to answer two questions with his study: first, can a patient-specific dosing protocol based on a patient’s usual diuretic dose achieve safe decongestion? and second, does this strategy alter the usual course of heart failure decompensation, which oftentimes culminates in inpatient hospitalization?

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Fewer Inappropriate Echocardiograms Ordered When Physician Education Implemented

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rory Brett Weiner, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School

Dr. Rory Brett Weiner

Rory Brett Weiner, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The increased use of noninvasive cardiac imaging and Medicare spending in the late 1990s and early 2000s has led to several measures to help optimize the use of cardiac imaging. One such effort has been the Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) put forth by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. The AUC for echocardiography have been useful to characterize practice patterns and more recently been used as a tool to try to improve ordering of echocardiograms. Our research group previously conducted a randomized study of physicians-in-training (cardiovascular medicine fellows) and showed that an AUC based educational and feedback intervention reduced the rate of rarely appropriate transthoracic echocardiograms (TTEs).

The current study represents the first randomized controlled trial of an AUC education and feedback intervention attending level cardiologists. In this study, the intervention group (which in addition to education received monthly feedback emails regarding their individual TTE ordering) ordered fewer rarely appropriate TTEs than the control group. The most common reasons for rarely appropriate TTEs in this study were ‘surveillance’ echocardiograms, referring to those in patients with known cardiac disease but no change in their clinical status.

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Patients With Newly Diagnosed DCIS Breast Cancer May Not Need Their Core Needle Biopsy Tested for Hormone Receptors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pedram Argani, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Principal consultant of the Breast Pathology Service Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Pedram Argani

Pedram Argani, M.D.
Professor of Pathology and
Principal consultant of the Breast Pathology Service
Johns Hopkins Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Most pathology laboratories, at the request if clinicians, automatically (reflexively) test needle core biopsies containing ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) for estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR). The logic for testing DCIS for these hormone receptors is that, for patients who have pure DCIS that is ER positive after surgical excision, treatment with estrogen blockers like Tamoxifen can decrease the recurrence of DCIS by a small amount, though overall survival (which is excellent) is not impacted.

However, there are several factors which suggest that this reflex testing unnecessarily increases costs.
• First, the ER/PR results on core needle biopsy do not impact the next step in therapy; namely, surgical excision.
• Second, a subset of excisions performed for DCIS diagnosed on core needle biopsy will harbor invasive breast carcinoma, which would than need to be retested for ER/PR.
• Third, because ER and PR labeling is often variable in DCIS, negative results for ER/PR in a small core biopsy specimen should logically be repeated in a surgical excision specimen with larger amounts of DICS to be sure that the result is truly negative.
• Fourth, many patients with pure DCIS which is ER/PR positive after surgical excision will decline hormone therapy, so any ER/PR testing of their DCIS is unnecessary.
• Fifth, PR status in DCIS has no independent value.

We reviewed the Johns Hopkins experience with reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS on core needle biopsies over 2 years. We found that reflex core needle biopsy specimen testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately $140.00 per patient. We found that ER/PR testing in the excision impacted management in only approximately one third of cases, creating an unnecessary increased cost of approximately $440.00 per patient. Extrapolating the increased cost of reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS to the 60,000 new cases of DCIS in the United States each year, reflex core needle biopsy ER/PR testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately 35 million dollars.

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Safety-Net Hospitals Can Reduce Costs By Shifting Complex Surgery Patients to Other Hospitals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard Hoehn, MD Resident in General Surgery College of Medicine University of Cincinnati

Dr. Richard Hoehn

Richard Hoehn, MD
Resident in General Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A recent study from our research group (Hoehn et al, JAMA Surgery, 2015) found that safety-net hospitals perform complex surgery with higher costs compared to other hospitals, and that these higher costs are potentially due to intrinsic differences in hospital performance.

In this analysis, we decided to simulate different policy initiatives that attempt to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals. Using a decision analytic model, we analyzed pancreaticoduodenectomy performed at academic hospitals in the US and tried to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals by either
1) reducing their mortality,
2) reducing their patients’ comorbidities and complications, or
3) sending their patients to non-safety-net hospitals for their surgery.

While reducing mortality had a negligible impact on cost and reducing comorbidities/complications had a noticeable impact on cost, far and away the most successful way to reduce costs at safety-net hospitals, based on our model, was to send patients away from safety-net hospitals for their pancreaticoduodenectomy.

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Patients Switch to Lower-Priced Labs If Required To Pay Out-of-Pocket Difference

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

James C. Robinson PhD Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Economics Director, Berkeley Center for Health Technology Division Head, Health Policy and Management University of California School of Public Health Berkeley, CA

Dr. James C. Robinson

James C. Robinson PhD
Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Economics
Director, Berkeley Center for Health Technology
Division Head, Health Policy and Management
University of California
School of Public Health
Berkeley, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: To moderate the increase in insurance premiums, employers are increasing consumer cost sharing requirements. Under reference pricing, the employer establishes a limit to what it will contribute towards each service or product, typically set at the 60th percentile or other midpoint in the distribution of prices in the market. If the patient selects a facility charging less than or equal to this contribution, he/she receives full coverage, but if a more expensive facility is chosen, the patient must pay the full difference.

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Women Still Getting CA-125 and CT Testing After Ovarian Cancer, Despite Lack of Clear Benefit

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katharine Mckinley Esselen, M.D. Instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Brigham and Womens Hospital

Dr. Katharine M. Esselen

Katharine Mckinley Esselen, M.D.
Instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Brigham and Womens Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There is no consensus on how to follow a patient in remission from ovarian cancer in order to detect recurrent disease. However, a 2009 randomized clinical trial demonstrated that using CA-125 blood tests for routine surveillance in ovarian cancer increases the use of chemotherapy and decreases patient’s quality of life without improving survival compared with clinical observation. Published guidelines categorize CA-125 tests as optional and discourage the use of radiographic imaging for routine surveillance. Thus, this study aims to examine the use of CA-125 tests and CT scans at 6 Cancer Centers and to estimate the economic impact of this surveillance testing for ovarian cancer.

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Dietary Supplements Are A $36 Billion Business

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leigh Purvis, MPA Director of Health Services Research AARP Public Policy Institute

Ms. Leigh Purvis

Leigh Purvis, MPA
Director of Health Services Research
AARP Public Policy Institute

Editors’ note: In conjunction with the AARP’s new investigative piece, ‘Supplement Pills That Promise Too Much’, Leigh Purvis, Director of the AARP Health Services Research program discussed the issue of the proliferation of supplements, often with labels that make extraordinary health benefit claims.

MedicalResearch.com: How many Americans use nutritional supplements? How big is the business of supplements?

Response: Supplements are very popular in the United States. This is particularly true for older adults. A recent study found that the proportion of older adults using supplements increased from 52 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2011, and the share using multiple supplements grew by nearly 50 percent.

According to the National Institutes of Health, American spent an estimated $36.7 billion on dietary supplements in 2014.

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Multiple Generics Required To Drive Down Price of Brand Name Drugs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jing Luo, MD, MPH Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law (PORTAL) Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Department of Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Jing Luo

Jing Luo, MD, MPH
Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law (PORTAL)
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Until recently, the cholesterol lowering drug atorvastatin was the highest selling prescription medication of all time. It’s transition in the prescription drug marketplace from being only available as a costly brand-name only product to one that incorporated healthy generic competition was delayed for many reasons. Generic competition has been shown to reduce prescription drug prices and improve adherence. However, for generic competition to work effectively, multiple competing generic are often required.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we examined the effect of varying degrees of generic competition on brand-name atorvastatin use and on out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs among patients with commercial health insurance. We found that limited generic competition through 1 competitor only reduced brand-name atorvastatin use by a modest amount, whereas full generic competition reduced brand-name atorvastatin use more substantially. We also found that out-of-pocket spending was not different comparing brand-name and generic products during the period of limited generic competition. Once full generic competition occurred, out-of-pocket spending by patients was substantially lower for generic formulations.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The effect of generic competition on prescription drug use or spending at the population level often depends on the number of generic competitors. A single generic manufacturer competing against a single brand-name manufacturer may not exert significant downward pressure on overall drug prices or drug spending.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We hope to examine whether prescription drug adherence is different depending on whether a patient starts a brand-name or generic versions of atorvastatin.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Access to lower cost but equally effective prescription drugs may be one way to improve health outcomes in the United States. For chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, adherence to evidence-based and proven therapies are unusually low. If prescription drug costs contribute to non-adherence, policy proposals should focus on reducing these costs in order to improve adherence and health outcomes.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Luo J, Seeger JD, Donneyong M, Gagne JJ, Avorn J, Kesselheim AS. Effect of Generic Competition on Atorvastatin Prescribing and Patients’ Out-of-Pocket Spending. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3384.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Critical Access Rural Hospitals Provide Safe Care At Lower Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrew M. Ibrahim, MD
Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar (VA Scholar),
Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ibrahim: Critical access hospital designation was created to help ensure access to the more than 59 million people living in rural populations. Hospitals were eligible for critical access designation if they had less than 25 beds and were located more than 35 miles away from another hospital. With this designation they were paid above total cost for the care they provided. Previous reports suggest these centers provide lower quality of care for common medical admissions, however little was known about surgical conditions. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Ibrahim: This study included a review of 1,631,904 Medicare beneficiary admissions to critical access hospitals (n = 828) and non-critical access hospitals (n = 3,676) for 1 of 4 common types of surgical procedures: appendectomy, gall bladder removal, removal of all or part of the colon, and hernia repair. Patient who underwent surgery at critical access hospitals were, on average, less medically complex.

Compared to larger urban hospitals, these small rural hospitals (i.e. critical access hospitals) had the same 30-day mortality rates and lower complications rates. In addition, critical access hospitals costs on average $1400 less per patient to Medicare, despite being paid in an alternative payment system. These findings remained significant after accounting for the patient’s pre-operation health condition.  

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Higher C-Section Rates Correlated With Increased Medicare Spending

Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Little, MD Obstetrics/Gynecology Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Little

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Little, MD
Obstetrics/Gynecology
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Little: This study investigates the variation in cesarean delivery rates across hospital services areas (a geographic unit designed by the Dartmouth Atlas to represent local markets for primarily hospital-based medical services). We looked at whether variation in cesarean delivery rates was related to broader variation in overall medical spending and utilization in that area, which we measured with Medicare spending and hospital use at the end-of-life. We found that an area’s cesarean delivery rate was correlated with these other measures; in other words, the hospital services areas that are doing the most cesarean deliveries are the same ones that are spending more and doing more to non-obstetric patients as well.
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Overtesting in Stable Diabetes Leads To Overtreatment

Rozalina G. McCoy, M.D. Senior Associate Consultant Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine Assistant Professor of Medicine Mayo Clinic

Dr. McCoy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rozalina G. McCoy, M.D
.
Senior Associate Consultant
Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Mayo Clinic

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. McCoy: Blood glucose monitoring is an integral component of managing diabetes.  Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is a measure of average glycemia over approximately 3 months, and is used in routine clinical practice to monitor and adjust treatment with glucose-lowering medications.  However, monitoring and treatment protocols are not well defined by professional societies and regulatory bodies; while lower thresholds of testing frequencies are often discussed, the upper boundaries are rarely mentioned.  Most agree that for adult patients who are not using insulin, have stable glycemic control within the recommended targets, and have no history of severe hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, checking once or twice a year should suffice. Yet in practice, there is a much higher prevalence of excess testing.  We believe that such over-testing results in redundancy and waste, adding unnecessary costs and burdens for patients and the health care system.

We therefore conducted a large retrospective study among 31,545 adults across the U.S. with stable and controlled type 2 diabetes who had HbA1c less than 7% without use of insulin and without documented severe hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.  We found that 55% of patients had their HbA1c checked 3-4 times per year, and 6% had it checked 5 times a year or more.  Such excessive testing had additional harms as well – we found that excessive testing was associated with greater risk of treatment intensification despite the fact that all patients in the study already met glycemic targets by having HbA1c under 7%.  Indeed, treatment was intensified by addition of more glucose lowering drugs or insulin in 8.4% of patients (comprising 13%, 9%, and 7% of those tested 5 or more times per year; 3-4 times per year; and 1-2 times per year, respectively).

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Baby Boomers Have More Chronic Conditions and Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sue Dong, DrPH
Data Center Director
CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training
Silver Spring, MD, 20910

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is a nonprofit organization funded by NIOSH and several other federal government agencies. The aging workforce study is part of our NIOSH projects. According to our surveillance data (using the Current Population Survey), more than 30% of US workers were baby boomers in 2014, and about 63% of those baby boomers were aged 55 and up. Overall, the baby boomer generation is composed of 75 million Americans who have reached or will soon reach their retirement years. Despite the impending magnitude of societal disruption, information on health status among baby boomers and the potential burden faced by this cohort is still scarce. We hope this study can provide some needed information on the aging population in the US.

To address this concern, we used data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). HRS is a national longitudinal survey of Americans aged 50 and over, which started in 1992. The baby boomer cohort (including Early Baby Boomers and Mid Baby Boomers who were born between 1948 and 1959) was added to the survey in recent years. HRS collects information on demographics, employment, health, health expenditures, etc. The rich information and relatively consistent survey instruments used over time allowed us to conduct this study.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: We estimated medical conditions and expenditures among the baby boomer cohort and compared them with the original HRS cohort (born between 1931 and 1941). We found that the baby boomers were more likely to report chronic conditions than the previous generation (HRS cohort) at similar ages. For example, at age 51-61, about 70% of the baby boomer cohort had at least one chronic condition, while 60% of the HRS cohort had at least one chronic condition. By detailed condition, 42.2% of baby boomers had high blood pressure, compared to 32.1% of the HRS cohort; 14.4% of the baby boomers had diabetes, nearly twice the proportion for the HRS cohort (7.8%). Overall, baby boomers had higher prevalence of chronic conditions for the nine conditions we measured compared to the HRS cohort at the same age.

We also found that the baby boomers were more likely to be overweight compared to the previous generation. The prevalence of obesity was 37% among baby boomers, but it was 21.9% among the HRS cohort when they were at similar ages

In terms of medical expenditures, the average out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) for the past two years for those aged 51-61 was $2,156 for the HRS cohort, but $3,118 for the baby boomers. Dollar value was adjusted to 2012 dollars for even comparison. The findings will be presented at the recent APHA annual conference in Chicago.

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Ambulatory Surgery Centers Have Cost Advantage Over Hospital Care

Kathleen Carey, Ph.D. Professor Department of Health Law, Policy and Management Boston University School of Public Health Boston MA 02118MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kathleen Carey, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Health Law, Policy and Management
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston MA  02118

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Carey: Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are a growing alternative to hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) for patients undergoing surgeries that do not require an overnight stay. The number of ASCs increased 49% between 2002 and 2012 and now exceeds the number of acute care hospitals.

Most Ambulatory surgery centers are specialized in the areas of gastroenterology, ophthalmology or orthopedic surgery. Because of specialization and limitations on the services they provide, it generally is assumed that ASCs can perform the same procedures at a lower cost than HOPDs. In fact, Medicare reimburses ASCs at a rate of roughly 60% of what they reimburse HOPDs. Yet since Medicare doesn’t require ASCs to submit cost reports, this policy is based on little information about the relative costs of ASCs and HOPDs.

The cost advantage may offer an explanation for rapid ASC growth. But financial margins are explained by both costs and revenues, and high returns on investment might also be explained by high prices. Here there is even less information, as prices negotiated between commercial health insurers and providers are ordinarily considered highly confidential. In this study, I took advantage of MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters, a large national database distributed by Truven Health Analytics that contains information on actual prices paid to ASCs and HOPDs to explore the revenue side of ASC expansion.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Carey: For this study, I examined six common surgical procedures that are high volume, provided in both ASCs and in HOPDs, and represent the three main ASC specialties: colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, cataract surgery, post cataract surgery (capsulotomy), and two knee arthroscopy procedures. Over the period 2007-2012, the ratio of what insurers paid ASCs compared to HOPDs differed considerably across specialty: For colonoscopy and endoscopy, ASCs received 22% less than HOPDS. But for cataract surgery, the payments were relatively comparable, and for knee arthroscopy payments to ASCs exceeded payments to HOPDs by 28% to 30%. Private insurers paid ASCs considerably more than Medicare did – anywhere from 25% more to over twice as much for post cataract surgery.

The other interesting finding was that HOPD prices grew much faster than ASC prices between 2007 and 2012. While some  Ambulatory surgery centers prices grew more than others, ASC prices on the whole rose roughly in line with medical care prices generally. HOPD prices for these services, however, rose from 32% to 76% during the same time period.

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ACO Model Reduced Some Low Value Medical Services in First Year

Aaron L. Schwartz, PhD Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aaron L. Schwartz, PhD
Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts  

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Schwartz: It is widely believed that much health care spending is devoted to services that provide little or no health benefit to patients. In previous work, we demonstrated that low-value services were commonly delivered to the Medicare population. In this study, we examined whether a new form of paying physicians and hospitals was effective in discouraging the use of low-value services.

The payment reform we studied was the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO)  Program, a feature of the Affordable Care Act. This program financially rewards health care provider groups who keep spending under a specified budget and achieve high performance on measures of quality of care. This voluntary program employs a similar ACO payment model that some private insurers have adopted.  The hope is that such models can encourage providers to be more efficient by allowing them to share in the savings generated by lower health care spending. In previous work, we demonstrated that the Pioneer ACO Program was associated with lower overall health care spending and steady or improved performance on health care quality measures. However, it was unclear whether providers were focusing on low-value services in their attempts to reduce spending.

We examined  2009-2012 Medicare claims data and measured the use of, and spending on, 31 services often provided to patients that are known to provide minimal clinical benefit. We found that patients cared for in the ACO model experienced a greater reduction in the use of low-value services when compared to patients who were not served by ACOs. We attributed a 4.5 percent reduction in low-value service spending to the ACO program. Interestingly, this was a greater reduction than the 1.2 percent reduction in overall spending attributed to the program, which suggests that providers were targeting low-value services in their efforts to reduce spending.

In addition, we found that providers with the greatest rate of low-value services prior to the ACO program showed the greatest reduction in these services. We also found similar reductions in service use between services that are more likely to be requested by patients (i.e. early imaging for lower-back pain) and other services.

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Patient Support Services Grow But Strain Cancer Centers’ Resources

Steven L. D'Amato, BSPharm, BCOP President and Executive Director New England Cancer Specialists Scarborough, Maine Association of Community Cancer CenteMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Steven L. D’Amato, BSPharm, BCOP
President and Executive Director
New England Cancer Specialists
Scarborough, Maine
Association of Community Cancer Centers

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Trends in Cancer Programs annual survey, which began in 2009, provides key insight into nationwide developments in the business of cancer care. It’s a joint project between the Association of Community Cancer Centers and Lilly Oncology.  The goals of the survey are to:

  • Provide ACCC with information to help guide its education and advocacy mission
  • Assist member organizations to understand nationwide developments in the business of cancer care
  • Assist members in evaluating their own cancer program’s performance relative to similar organizations through a consistent and meaningful benchmark.

This year’s key findings show that patient-centered services – like nurse navigation, psychological counseling, survivorship care and palliative care – are continuing to grow in U.S. cancer programs. However, the biggest challenge facing cancer centers is reimbursement for these types of services. Additionally, mirroring what we are seeing in the industry in general, measurement is becoming more and more important. More cancer programs are now using quality metrics to show payers the value of care provided.

More information about our findings can be viewed here: http://www.accc-cancer.org/surveys/pdf/Trends-in-Cancer-Programs-2015.pdf.

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Routine Urinalysis Tests Can Lead To Overtreating Asymptomatic Patients

Jerome A. Leis, MD MSc FRCPC Division of Infectious Diseases, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Physician Lead, Antimicrobial Stewardship Team Faculty Quality Improvement Advisor, Centre for QuIPS Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Toronto, OntarioMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jerome A. Leis, MD MSc FRCPC
Division of Infectious Diseases
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Physician Lead, Antimicrobial Stewardship Team
Faculty Quality Improvement Advisor, Centre for QuIPS
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
University of Toronto
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, Ontario

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Leis: We know that urinary tract infections are frequently diagnosed among general medicine patients who lack symptoms of this infection.  We wondered whether urinalysis ordering practices in the Emergency Department influence diagnosis and treatment for urinary tract infection among these asymptomatic patients.  We found that over half of patients admitted to the general medicine service underwent a urinalysis in the Emergency Department of which over 80% lacked a clinical indication for this test.  Urinalysis results among these asymptomatic patients did influence diagnosis as patients with incidental positive results were more likely to undergo urine cultures and treatment with antibiotics for urinary tract infection.  The study suggests that unnecessary urinalysis ordering contributes to over-diagnosis and treatment of urinary tract infection among patients admitted to general medicine service.

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Evidence of Value of Orphan Drugs Inconsistent

Igho Onakpoya MD MSc Clarendon Scholar University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences Oxford UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Igho Onakpoya MD MSc

Clarendon Scholar
University of Oxford
Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Oxford UK

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Onakpoya: Several orphan drugs have been approved for use in Europe. However, the drugs are costly, and evidence for their clinical effectiveness are often sparse at the time of their approval.

We found inconsistencies in the quality of the evidence for approved orphan drugs. We could not identify a clear mechanism through which their prices drugs are determined. In addition, the costs of the branded drugs are much higher than their generic or unlicensed versions.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Onakpoya: Because of inconsistencies in the evidence regarding the benefit-to-harm balance of orphan medicines, coupled with their high prices, clinicians and patients should assess whether the orphan drugs provide real value for money before making a decision about their use for a medical condition.
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Costs To Treat Inmates With Hepatitis C Potentially Staggering

Brian Montague, DO MS MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine and of Health Services, Policy and Practice Division of Infectious Diseases Brown University / The Miriam HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brian Montague, DO MS MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine and of Health Services, Policy and Practice
Division of Infectious Diseases
Brown University / The Miriam Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Montague: Hepatitis C is in an important public health problem affecting 4-5 million persons in the US alone.  Given the risk of infection associated with drug use, the prevalence of hepatitis C in corrections has been significantly higher than in the general population.

Prior to 2013, the available treatment options were both expensive and of significant toxicity and limited efficacy.  Uptake to these therapies were low.  Starting in 2013, new therapeutics options offering shorter course treatments and efficacies greater than 90% became available.  These therapies offer new possibilities to increase uptake to treatment, however the cost of the therapies has made rapid scale up of treatment impossible.  Given the risk of serious harms to patients with advanced liver disease if not treated, insurance has begun to approve these new therapies for patients with more advanced disease.

Departments of corrections are obliged to provide the same standard of care to persons in corrections as they would receive in the community.  Unlike Medicaid and community insurance providers, correctional systems worker under a fixed budget. Large increases in expenditures for treatment of hepatitis C without establishing mechanisms to offset these costs risks compromising other essential programs and functions in the correctional health system.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Montague: In a cross-sectional analysis we estimated the burden of hepatitis C within the department of corrections.  At the time of the study, an estimated 836 persons have chronic hepatitis C.  Among these an estimated 119 have advanced liver disease, stage 3 or 4 fibrosis, and would meet criteria for treatment under most insurance programs.  Even a conservative approach of restricting treatment in corrections to those with stage 3 or 4 fibrosis would incur costs of over $15 million, which is greater than 6 times the current correctional health budget for pharmaceuticals and 76% of the overall correctional health budget.

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1 in 5 Hospitalizations in Cancer Patients May Be Avoidable

Gabriel Brooks, MD Gastrointestinal Cancer Center Dana-Farber Cancer Institute MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gabriel Brooks, MD

Gastrointestinal Cancer Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Brooks: The background for our study is that hospitalizations in patients with cancer are common, costly, and distressing to patients.  Acute hospital care is the single largest expenditure category in cancer care, accounting for substantially greater costs than even chemotherapy. However, patients generally wish to avoid hospitalization, and they certainly want to avoid complications of treatment that can lead to hospitalization. For these reasons, we sought to identify the extent to which hospitalizations are perceived as potentially avoidable by clinicians who are directly involved in patient care.

We interviewed three physicians for each of 103 patients with cancer who experienced a hospitalization. For 24 patients (23%) two or more of the three physicians agreed that hospitalization had been potentially avoidable.

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Inappropriate Breast, Prostate Imaging Regionally Clustered

Danil Makarov, MD Lead Investigator Assistant Professor, Departments of Urology, Population Health and Health Policy Member, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NYMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Danil Makarov, MD Lead Investigator
Assistant Professor, Departments of Urology, Population Health and Health Policy
Member, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Makarov: The background for this study is that regional variation in patterns of care and healthcare spending is widely known.  The drivers of this regional variation, though, are poorly understood.  Certain policy groups like the IOM have suggested that policy efforts be focused on individual providers and patients. Programs such as Choosing Wisely, which encourage a dialogue between physicians and patients, are a great example of such efforts.  However, some of our prior research suggests that regional variation is not random and that there might be are regional-level factors which drive variation.

To test out our hypothesis, we wanted to see whether inappropriate imaging for two unrelated cancers was associated at a regional level (it should not be).

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Makarov: We found that, at a regional level, inappropriate breast cancer imaging was associated with inappropriate prostate cancer imaging.

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Gaining Prescription Drug Insurance Reduced Inpatient Medicare Payments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Robert Kaestner

University of Illinois at Chicago – Institute of Government and Public Affairs
Chicago, IL 60607 and
National Bureau of Economic Research
365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Prof. Kaestner:  Gaining prescription drug insurance through Medicare Part D was associated with a 8% reduction in the probability of a hospital admission, a 7% reduction in Medicare payments for inpatient services per person (who obtained insurance), and a 12% reduction in hospital resource use per person.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Kaestner:  Prescription drugs are, on average, a substitute for inpatient care.
The greater use of prescription drugs that comes with insurance prevents hospitalizations.
MedicalResearch.com  What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Kaestner:  Future research should try to identify the specific biological and clinical mechanisms underlying the finding that prescription drug use decreased hospitalization.

Citation:
Kaestner, Robert and Long, Cuiping and Alexander, G. Caleb, Effects of Prescription Drug Insurance on Hospitalization and Mortality: Evidence from Medicare Part D (February 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w19948. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2403672

 

Costs of Health Care: Teaching Medical Residents How to Provide Cost-Conscious Care

Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA RWJF Clinical Scholar, University of Pennsylvania Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA is a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar the University of Pennsylvania and primary care physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA
RWJF Clinical Scholar, University of Pennsylvania
Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA is a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar the University of Pennsylvania and primary care physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Patel: We evaluated survey responses from nearly 300 internal medicine residency programs directors to assess whether residency programs were teaching residents the fundamental concepts of practicing high-value, cost-conscious care.  We found that 85% of program directors feel that graduate medical education has a responsibility to help curtail the rising costs of health care.  Despite this, about 6 out of every 7 internal medicine residency programs have not yet adopted a formal curriculum teaching new physicians these important concepts.
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Cancer Patients: Coping, Medication Adherence if under Financial Distress

S. Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS Assistant Professor of Medicine Duke Cancer Institute twitter: @yzafarMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
S. Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Duke Cancer Institute
twitter: @yzafar
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Zafar: We found that cost-related medication non-adherence was prevalent among cancer patients who sought financial assistance. Nearly half of participating cancer patients were non-adherent to medications as a result of cost. Patients  used different cost-coping strategies, for example, trying to find less expensive medications, borrowing money to pay for medications, and otherwise reducing spending. We found that non adherent participants were more likely to be young, unemployed, and without a prescription medication insurance plan.
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