The Rundown | Week of 10.7.2019

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Waste Accounts for One-Quarter of Healthcare Spending

A recent study in JAMA estimates that approximately 30 percent of healthcare spending is waste. Researchers concluded up to $935 billion of U.S. healthcare spending is waste “despite efforts to reduce overtreatment, improve care, and address overpayment.” The study analyzed “waste domains previously identified by the Institute of Medicine and Berwick and Hackbarth: failure of care delivery, failure of care coordination, overtreatment or low-value care, pricing failure, fraud and abuse, and administrative complexity.” However, interventions to address waste saved between $191 billion and $282 billion.
>> Read More: Waste in the US Health Care System

Michigan Medicaid Expansion Improved Physical and Mental Health

According to a recent analysis, almost one-third of low-income Michigan residents discovered a previously undiagnosed chronic illness after enrolling in the state’s expanded Medicaid program. Researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation analyzed “the prevalence of new and pre-existing chronic health conditions” after enacting the Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP). “Among enrollees, 68 percent had a self-reported diagnosis of a chronic health condition; 42 percent of those were newly diagnosed since HMP enrollment,” the report noted. The strongest predictors of improved health among enrollees were “having seen a primary care physician, improved mental health care access, and improved medication access.” Researchers concluded that “improved access was associated with improved physical and mental health.”
>> Read More: Diagnosis and Care of Chronic Health Conditions Among Medicaid Expansion Enrollees: a Mixed-Methods Observational Study

Survey: Customers Embracing Technology for Transparency

A recent survey from UnitedHealthcare found diverse patients are embracing technology in a variety of ways. One in five patients “said the internet or a mobile app is the first source they usually consult for information about specific health symptoms, conditions or ailments.” The number of consumers using digital tools for “comparison shopping” is up by 257 percent from 2012, and 80 percent of those found the experience helpful. In addition, nearly half of respondents were interested in “their physician using artificial intelligence” to improve diagnosis, reduce human error, and quicken treatment decisions.
>> Read More: UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey

Study: Mental Health Issues Affect Work Productivity

Two-thirds of adults ages 18 to 25 struggle at work due to mental health issues, according to a recent survey from Teladoc. Researchers interviewed 3,974 adult participants between the ages of 18 and 65 from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States to analyze the link between mental health and workplace productivity. However, half of the respondents “who perceive mental healthcare stigma in the workplace seek remote forms of information and care,” such as telehealth. Furthermore, 82 percent of “employees diagnosed with a mental health problem did not confide in anyone at work about their issue.” Researchers offered four recommendations to employers: create wellbeing programs, educate leaders about discussing mental health, educate employees about mental health resources, and empower managers to discuss mental health challenges.
>> Read More: Tackling a Global Mental Health Crisis in the Workplace

Walmart to Steer Employees to High-Quality Care

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has announced an updated employer-sponsored health plan that focuses on connecting workers “with top specialists for certain serious medical conditions and procedures, giving them easy access to the best, most appropriate care possible and helping avoid misdiagnoses.” The 2020 plan aims to “connect patients with local doctors who have a demonstrated history of providing the most appropriate patient care.” Furthermore, the plan uses data to assess “affordable, quality local provider[s] in eight specialties: primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics, and pulmonology.” While plans vary by region, the overall services also include telehealth options, concierge medicine, chronic care management, and behavioral health.
>> Read More: New Associate Benefits Aim to Simplify Health Care and Focus on Appropriate Care

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