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Doctors have long toyed with the idea of hosting extended hours in the evening and weekends to help patients avoid costly trips to the emergency room or hospital.In making their office less like a business space and more like a “medical home,” the doctors believe they’d be more proactive in helping patients nip medical problems in the bud and cut down on expensive tests like X-rays, which can rise up in cost as disease advances.
Now a new study published in the Annals of Family Health proves it.
After analysing records of more than 30,000 patients aged 18 to 90-years-old, researchers from the University of California Davis, School of Medicine found that patients enrolled in “medical homes” paid 10.4 per cent less in health care costs than patients elsewhere.
Surprisingly, a reduction in visits and stays at the hospital wasn’t what accounted for the decrease in health care expenses. Even the patient’s familiarity with the doctor didn’t make much of a difference.
What did affect their costs was the doctor’s approach: medical home doctors tend to prescribe “less expensive medications and less discretionary test ordering during visits,” observed the researchers. What’s more, the patients drawn to these doctors’ offices tended to be ones who requested brand names and discretionary testing less frequently.
Put simply, these practices put their patients’ needs first.