Failing to access physical therapy could be contributing to the significant waste in the U.S. healthcare system

First, we’d like to take a minute to wish everyone a happy and blessed holiday season and thanks to all of our patient and community for the opportunity to serve you.  

Now, let’s talk about some of the major problems with our healthcare system…and Visalia and Hanford aren’t immune to this.

It’s a common talking point by now that the U.S. healthcare system is in need of repair, and one of the biggest issues is extremely high costs. In fact, we spend more on health care than any other nation in the world, with about 18% of our gross domestic product (GDP)—and approximately $10,000 per person—going directly to this system. But it’s also been found that significant portion of the money spent on health care is wasted, meaning that much can be saved if these areas are targeted.

Several studies have looked into these costs and how much can be considered “wasted spending,” but the most recent one was published in 2012. For this reason, researchers performed an updated review of the literature to estimate the levels of waste in the U.S. healthcare system, along with suggestions on how to reduce it.

Here’s What Some of the Research Says

To conduct the review, a search was performed for studies related to health care costs or savings over the past seven years. This process led to 71 estimates from 54 pieces of literature being included. Once collected, these documents were analyzed and calculations were executed to determine how much money was wasted on health care. Below are some of the key findings of the review:

  • The estimated total cost of waste in the healthcare system was $760 billion to $935 billion
  • Interventions to address this waste could potentially save $191 billion to $202 billion
  • These estimates account for about 25% of the total health care expenditures in the U.S.

The potential sources of waste were grouped into six categories, and suggested interventions were given to address each one (“failure of care delivery,” “failure of care coordination,” “overtreatment or low-value care,” “pricing failure,” “fraud and abuse,” and “administrative complexity.” Three of these categories apply specifically to wasted costs that may occur when patients do not undergo physical therapy for a painful condition:

  • Failure of care delivery: this is waste when the best types of practices to care for patients are not adopted or poorly executed
    • Example: an elderly patient could suffer a severe fall that could’ve been avoided if the patient was properly identified as at-risk and sent to a physical therapist to undergo a fall-prevention program
  • Pricing failure: costs of services that are significantly higher in the U.S. than other countries—for various reasons—contribute to this this type of waste
    • Example: a patient with shoulder pain that sees a primary care doctor may be sent to have an expensive MRI or CT scan right away, whereas with a physical therapist, treatment would likely begin without these tests
  • Overtreatment or low-value care: this type of waste results when patients receive treatments that are not considered effective according to research
    • Example: if a patient with low back pain visits a surgeon before seeing a physical therapist, surgery may be recommended to address their condition, even though research shows that it’s better to wait

The Healthcare System is More Patient-Centric than Ever – You Have Choices!

Patients have the power to lower their healthcare costs by educating themselves about their options.  By seeing a physical therapist first before any other medical professional, you can ensure that treatment will be started right away and most likely, you will be able to avoid unnecessary tests and treatments.  Click here to contact one of our offices.