MedCity News: 3 thoughts that emerged from the Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit

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February 21, 2018


Healthcare is a multi-faceted industry. There are numerous sides to the discussion: patient care, the supply chain, policy, new technologies and provider wellness, to name a few. Cost, however, is one area of healthcare that isn’t as much fun to talk about. When it is brought up, it’s often a topic people resort to complaining about.

But West Health’s Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit sought to bring money to the forefront of the conversation by asking a central question: Why does healthcare cost so much and what can we do about it?

Presentations and panels featuring various speakers contributed to the live-streamed conference on February 21. Here are three takeaways that came out of the summit.

There’s a lot of unnecessary care amping up costs
Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande illustrated this thought with an example.

A few years ago, he read a study in which more than 1 million Medicare patients were asked how often they received one of 26 treatments known to be of no benefit. Possible treatments included getting an EEG for headaches and getting an MRI or CT scan for back pain. According to the results, a conservative guess was that 25 percent of patients get one of these tests in a single year. The best calculation is closer to 42 percent.