3 Ways to Save Lives and Cut Healthcare Costs

The two can go hand in hand

Doctor with older male patient

You know the cost of healthcare in the United States is high, but the statistics are truly staggering. Healthcare costs make up almost one-fourth of the federal budget. They also account for 18 percent of America’s gross domestic product.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

That’s why our country is shifting to value-based care. If value-based care sounds like a buzzword to you, think of it in simple terms: We have to improve your health and cut costs at the same time. Improving health outcomes while ignoring costs is not sustainable. And we certainly can’t cut costs without thinking about how it affects your care.

Personalized healthcare treats these goals hand in hand. It’s a relatively new field, so research in the coming years will measure its effectiveness. But it is already helping in several ways.

1. Prevention cuts the cost of disease

A whopping 60 percent of our healthcare costs come from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary disease and certain cancers. These diseases have one thing in common: They’re preventable.

Preventing disease is a major goal of personalized healthcare. Focusing on prevention can save lives and money at the same time. For example, one study published in 2010 looked at 20 key prevention services — including programs to help people lose weight or quit smoking — and determined that increasing their use could save $3.7 billion while adding years to patients’ lives.

A whopping 60 percent of our healthcare costs come from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary disease and certain cancers. These diseases have one thing in common: They’re preventable.

Advertising Policy

We have the tools to do this, from family health history to annual well checks to preventive screenings. We just need more doctors and patients to take advantage of them.

2. Tailoring medications to individual patients

The right medication at the right time for the right patient — that’s the goal of the growing field of pharmacogenetics.

Your genetics play a part in how you respond to drugs. For example, certain kids metabolize the pain medication codeine too rapidly, which can lead to dangerous and even deadly reactions. The good news: Doctors can screen children in advance to find out who can safely and effectively take codeine. The same is true for many other drugs.

Recognizing the health benefits, we started Cleveland Clinic’s Personalized Medication Program to incorporate pharmacogenetics into practice. Beyond health benefits, programs such as this cut costs in three ways:

  • If a screening indicates you won’t benefit from a medication, you can avoid the expense of buying it.
  • If a screening helps you avoid bad reactions to drugs, you may also avoid expensive hospitalization or emergency room visits.
  • If you have already had a test done, there is a feature that lets your doctor know so you don’t have to get the test again.

All three improve costs not only for you, the patient, but also for insurance companies and others who pay for healthcare.

Advertising Policy

3. Using tech for better care

Electronic health records (EHR) are a major part of modern medical practice. But these records are only as good as the data they contain.

There’s a movement under way to develop tools that make EHR data smarter and more efficient. For example, Cleveland Clinic’s MyFamily tool helps patients gather family health history — a crucial element of disease prevention — easily at home. Then, it integrates into your electronic health record, where all doctors and nurses on your care team can access it. In the future, tools like this may grow to include genetic screening results and warnings about pharmacogenetics, among other factors.

If we provide doctors with better support for decision-making, a host of benefits follows. Care gets better. You get healthier. The healthcare system gets a reduction in unnecessary testing and prescriptions.

Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy