Somehow I put aside the New Yorker Magazine with Dr. Gwande’s article, The Hot Spotters, and never got back to it. So I sat down the other day and read the entire piece — if you print it out it’s 18 pages, so it takes a while. However, the article is well worth the time with its descriptions of innovative projects around the country that are exploring ways to reduce health costs while at the same time providing better patient care.
Dr. Gwande describes how these projects identify medical hot spots (a small number of patients accounting for a large portion of medical costs), locate the heaviest users of medical services, and provide these patients with additional medical care and support. Looking at community experiences in Camden, New Jersey, Boston, Seattle and other locations around the country, Dr. Gwande (check out his website) explains how the patients participating in these small projects are becoming healthier and avoiding more serious medical complications. NPR’s Fresh Air reported on the article.
Adult children will note that the article explains how medical care for retirees can spiral out of control if early treatment for problems is put off for too long. Sometime these older patients, who are on fixed incomes, want to the avoid extra co-payments, so they wait until a problem becomes more serious (and therefore more costly to treat) before seeking medical help.