How Patients can Control Healthcare Costs
Aging Matters

Healthcare carries the highest charges than any other industry in the U.S. today, taking a $3 trillion-dollar hit on the budget. A recent study by Deloitte, suggests the United States continues to spend more on medical care over many countries in the world. In 2013, we paid 17.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and in 2014, it grew by 4.9 percent.

Medicare does not insulate seniors from the burden of medical care expenses. Older adults pay a better portion of their plan premiums and bear higher out-of-pocket costs. The medical care growths continue as people develop chronic illnesses in older age.

Some improvements may help the escalating costs of healthcare by cultivating a better experience of the care received, lowering the expenses, and evolving the health of the masses. The Aging Council at Seniorcare.com identified several trends to help the system to reform.

  • One shift is from the current fee-for-service to a charge based on value. The care providers accept repayment for a patients' care outcome rather than for the number of office visits. It focuses on quality vs. quantity. Dan Hogan, Medalogix
  • Patient management can impact the medical costs. Many people search for information about their disease and come prepared with questions for doctors and providers (and research what has best success rates.) Patients will demand access to online medical records, communications tools, and transparent data, which have the potential to change healthcare for the better. Shannon Martin, Aging Wisely
  • The extensive usage of remote medical assessments and monitoring will significantly impact health care. This model has potential to ward off recurring hospitalization for ill seniors who have little access to doctor appointments. The technology needs to be in place, but seniors, caregivers, providers and payers could benefit. Kathy Birkett, Senior Care Corner
  • Look at the recent Health Affairs article that speaks to hospital reviews on Yelp, an online consumer review system. The areas measuring patient and caregiver hospitalization outcomes are more thorough on Yelp as compared to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey used by hospitals. These types of consumer tech-enabled apps will disrupt the system. Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience
  • Wearable devices that measure and monitor consumer safety, heart rate, activity, and falls, are excellent examples of preventive models of care. Another trend that helps personalize medical care is the diagnostic tests that predict how a patient will respond to treatments. Ben Mandelbaum, Senior Planning
  • Information and data will have the most significant changes that empower patients and caregivers. The perceptions gained by active and passive sensors with assist healthcare providers to give better care to consumers. The data will help identify, treat, and to prevent serious chronic illnesses. When people receive education, they are better prepared to control their health and demand the health care system to change and emphasize the quality of life and patient-centered care. Connie Chow, Daily Caring

Carol Marak is the editor at SeniorCare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis.



Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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