Doctors who share patients may provide lower cost care

August 1, 2012 By Laura Kennedy

Patients with diabetes or congestive heart failure who receive care from doctors with high levels of patient overlap have lower total health care costs and lower rates of hospitalization, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study represents a first step in measuring relationships among providers, which may facilitate better coordination of care as patients move through the .

Previous research has viewed having multiple doctors for one patient as a risk factor for poor care coordination, overlooking the potential for beneficial interactions among providers, suggest the researchers.

“It’s not just how many different doctors you see, but which doctors you see and how well the doctors coordinate care with one another,” says lead author Craig Pollack, M.D., MHS, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “The way we looked at that was by measuring how often doctors shared patients with one another.”

The study is based on insurance claims data for more than 60,000 patients with either or (CHF). Using innovative techniques adapted from social network analysis, the authors looked at claims from all providers for each patient to determine what they called “care density,” a measure of patient-sharing among doctors. For patients with CHF, high care density was associated with significantly lower inpatient costs than patients with lower care density. Patients with diabetes and high care density had lower inpatient and outpatient costs.

“Using network science to understand more about these complex interactions in patient care is a new and very exciting field of research,” says Bruce Landon, M.D., MBA, of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy. Understanding the interconnections among health care providers may also present opportunities to speed up diffusion of medical innovations across networks, he adds.

The authors note that their approach does not analyze how continuity of care may change over time, nor were they able to examine how patient sharing varies according to patient race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

“It’s our hope that these types of metrics can one day be used to identify patients at risk for poorly coordinated care,” says Pollack. “This study is an important step towards that goal.”

Explore further: People with multiple chronic illnesses have trouble coordinating care

More information: Pollack, C.E. et al. (2012). Patient Sharing Among Physicians and Costs of Care: A Network Analytic Approach to Care Coordination Using Claims Data. Journal of General Internal Medicine, doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2104-7

Related Stories

People with multiple chronic illnesses have trouble coordinating care

March 30, 2012
People with chronic illnesses often see up to 5 specialists a year. One major challenge for these patients and their doctors is coordinating care among multiple health care providers. Younger patients and those with several ...

Ethnic differences in appointment keeping affect health of diabetes patients

October 27, 2011
Ethnic differences in appointment keeping may be an important factor in poor health outcomes among some minority patients with diabetes, according to a new study.

Will minorities be left out of health care law provision?

April 26, 2011
Hospitals and physician practices that form care-coordinating networks called "Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)," under provisions of the new health-care law could reap cost-savings and other benefits. However, experts ...

UnitedHealth unveils patient info service for MDs

February 14, 2012
(AP) -- UnitedHealth Group's Optum business is launching a service that allows doctors to share information about patients over the Internet, as health care companies continue their push to improve care with better coordination.

Doctors need training to help smokers quit

May 18, 2012
Health care professionals do a better job helping people quit smoking when they are trained in smoking cessation techniques, a new Cochrane Library review finds.

Use of patient centered medical home features not related to patients' experience of care

June 8, 2012
Providing patient care using key features of a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a model of health care delivery promoted by major physician groups, may not influence what patients think about the care they receive, reports ...

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.