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In the News: Feb 14–21

Spending for Those With Commerical Insurance Is at Record High

The Health Care Cost Institute published its 2017 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report this month, which utilizes health care claims from more than 40 million people under the age of 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance between 2013 and 2017, looking at pharmacy spending, medical utilization and average medical pricing.

According to the report, annual spending per person reached a record high $5,641 in 2017, which is a 4.2% increase from 2016 and a 16.7% increase from 2013. While health care utilization has stayed relatively constant over the 5-year period, average prices increased 17.1%, especially for prescription drugs and outpatient visits. Average spending per-person varied widely across states, from $3,626 in Hawaii to $7,469 in Alaska.

As employers look for creative ways to reduce increases in employee health care costs and with the proportion of patients covered by commercial insurance shrinking, direct-to-employer contracting offers health systems an opportunity to capture commercial revenue by addressing employers’ pain points. For a broad menu of employer contracting options, read Sg2’s report Employer Contracting: Strategies for Netting Commercial Revenue and Volumes.


Deep Brain Stimulation Used for Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders

A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that deep brain stimulation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improved depressive symptoms in epilepsy patients. Because these patients already had electrodes placed in their brains to monitor seizure activity, researchers saw an opportunity to study how neural activity impacts mood in patients with treatment-resistant mood disorders.

Researchers used electrode therapy across multiple regions of the brain, seeing mood improvement only when the lateral orbitofrontal cortex was stimulated in patients with baseline moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

Patients with difficult to treat or treatment-resistant mental health conditions put a financial strain on health systems. Thus, health systems are beginning to centralize interventional psychiatry programs to reduce financial and workforce burden and reduce unnecessary inpatient services. To learn more about trends in interventional psychiatry programs, read the Sg2 FAQ Exploring Current and Emerging Trends in Interventional Psychiatry.


Younger Patients Are Dissatisfied With Traditional Health Care

A recent Modern Healthcare article discusses how young health care consumers, referring to millennials and the generations that follow them, tend to be less satisfied with traditional models of health care delivery. Important factors determining satisfaction with care include effectiveness, lack of convenience and responsiveness, and cost transparency.

Results from a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation Survey and a 2018 Oxford Economics Survey suggest that although young consumers would like to have a regular primary care physician, they face difficulties in finding providers who are affordable, convenient and have digital capabilities. The article noted some experts think the shift from established relationships to utilization of walk-in or retail clinics, urgent-care centers and online telemedicine visits may fragment care.

Generational and geographical differences in health care behaviors and consumption present a challenge to health systems attempting to address the most pressing consumer needs. Sg2 believes that health systems need to enhance the consumer experience by shifting toward seamless, integrated, personalized and affordable options. To learn more on how to integrate consumer preferences into your organization’s consumerism strategies, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Consumerism Update 2018.

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