One theory of the consumer-directed health movement has been that educated and motivated patients will make better value-based decisions regarding their health care, helping to reduce overall costs. A recent study published in AJMC supports this theory.
There is an ongoing line of research around regional differences in utilization of and spending on health care. A study published in Circulation surveyed physicians on their practice styles and finds that malpractice fears and peer pressure may account for a significant fraction of regional variation.
JAMA reports on a study of trends in back surgery for older patients. Rates for a complex form of this surgery have grown very rapidly, along with complications and costs; raising questions about whether the growth is due to physician preference or to truly informed patient choice.
A commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine reminds us that health care has been a major contributor to the federal deficit and consequently the national debt and that it is likely to continue to add to our financial woes, notwithstanding the recent health act.
States that supposedly led the way on health care reform are finding out it was the bleeding edge that they were on. Insurers are always the easy target, but bashing them won’t solve the underlying cost problem. If the federal bill actually is implemented, the experience of these states will likely be replicated nationally.
A survey examines the bases for patients’ preferences for a site of care, in particular what factors would lead them to chose a retail clinic versus a regular physician office when they have a relatively minor health need.
Two recent pieces of research shed further light on what commonly happens with individuals’ health status near the end of their lives and on the extent to which people are considering what kind of care they want to receive if they reach medical crisis and whether a patient’s preferences are being respected.
For some years researchers have examined the link, if any, between the volume of a certain type of procedure or service at a hospital and outcomes. A new study published in NEJM extends that research, finding that at a certain level volume is associated with lower mortality.
A variety of benefits from expanded use of electronic medical or health records have been advanced by advocates. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine explores whether such electronic records can help limit the number of diagnostic mistakes by physicians and other health professionals.