Health reform news: For the most expensive patients, better preventative care can drastically reduce costs

HSPH’s Atul Gawande, a physician and regular contributor to The New Yorker, wrote a piece in the January 24, 2011 issue of the magazine about how health care costs can be lowered by providing more hands-on preventative care for the most expensive patients. This small percentage of “super-utilizers” make the greatest use of emergency rooms and other forms of medical care, accounting for a disproportionate share of costs. Gawande profiles a physician in Camden, New Jersey, who teamed with a nurse practitioner and social worker to work more closely with super-utilizers. They made home visits, helped with tasks such as applying for disability insurance, and encouraged patients to adopt healthier habits, which resulted in a 40 percent reduction in average monthly emergency room visits and a 56 percent reduction in average hospital bills—results Gawande calls “revolutionary.”

Link to New Yorker article

Gawande appeared in various media outlets to discuss the article, including NPR’s Fresh Air and CNN’s Parker Spitzer.

Learn more

Gawande Talks Health Reform with NPR, Colbert Report Read about Gawande’s media appearances earlier in January to discuss health insurance reform and his book, The Checklist Manifesto, which has just been released in paperback.