Business of Medicine

By Katy Mena-Berkley
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Vote of Confidence: Hospital Consumer Comfort in the Era of COVID-19

While COVID-19 caused many to shy away from in-person visits with a healthcare provider, a Healthgrades study published in May notes that consumer confidence is on the upswing. The COVID-19 Patient Confidence Study, a weekly report measuring consumer attitudes and behaviors, found that confidence in visiting healthcare providers was at its highest levels since late March.

Key numbers from the report include that 72% of patients are no longer delaying visits to their doctor, and 52% planned to go within two months. A month earlier, only 37% of patients planned to visit their doctor during the next two months. Additionally, the May study noted a significant increase in physician search on Healthgrades.com. For example, Nevada saw a 129% increase, while Texas saw an increase of 111%.


Easing At-Home Solution for End-Stage Renal Disease

Payment changes proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are designed to encourage at-home dialysis treatment. The proposed rule in the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System would permit payment for the latest equipment and supplies necessary for at-home dialysis treatment, including home dialysis machines.

Through this new payment mechanism, more Medicare beneficiaries would have faster access to these options. These eligibility refinements are based on the FDA’s New Drug Application Classifications. At-home care would free up valuable time and energy for the more than 85% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with ESRD who travel a minimum of three times per week to receive dialysis treatment.


Examining the Cost of Waste in Health Care

The United States invests more money in health care than any other nation, according to JAMA — specifically, costs near 18% of the gross domestic product. However, certain studies estimate that, in spite of attempts to improve care, minimize overtreatment and resolve overpayment, roughly 30% of healthcare spending may be categorized as waste.

To further investigate, JAMA studied peer-reviewed and “gray” literature composed from January 2012 to May 2019. This literature concentrated on six domains of healthcare waste 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
  • Administrative complexity

According to the review, the approximate cost of waste in the American healthcare system stretched from $760 billion to $935 billion and accounted for an estimated 25% of total healthcare spending, underscoring the importance of continued efforts to implement appropriate waste-reduction strategies.