Study finds healthcare providers overlooking costs

Feb 11, 2014

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, despite healthcare spending that has reached nearly $3 trillion each year in the U.S., few general medicine programs around the country are teaching new physicians to practice cost-conscious care.

A survey of nearly 300 residency programs around the U.S revealed that the vast majority of healthcare providers believe it’s their responsibility to help decrease rising costs.

But, lead author of the study Mitesh Patel said, only 15 percent of residency programs formally teach new doctors how to cut costs while still providing high-quality care.

Patel said doctors can take simple steps that can make a big difference, but that’s not currently part of the culture in most hospitals.

“We know that brand name medications are typically three to four times more expensive than generic medications, but they’re essentially equivalent in their quality and their outcome," Patel said. "And there’s a fair amount of money being wasted by spending or recommending brand name medications when a generic medication exists. So that’s an example of something simple that we could do.”

Patel said greater transparency around the cost of treatments for both doctors and patients could also make a difference.

He said less than a third of physicians have access to information on costs in the clinical setting.