Roughly one-third of 2009 health care spending was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs and fraud, according to a national Institute of Medicine report released Thursday.
The report highlighted flaws that have long plagued the U.S. health care system, which is relatively slow to adopt new technologies, lacks incentives for doctors and hospitals to keep costs down and doesn’t encourage all of a patient’s providers to coordinate care.
Without major changes to how patients receive health care and how insurers pay for it, providers won’t be able to keep up with the flood of research discoveries and technological advances, the committee of health care leaders found.
“Our health care system lags in its ability to adapt, affordably meet patients’ needs, and consistently achieve better outcomes,” said Mark Smith, CEO of the California Healthcare Foundation and chairman of the committee that wrote the report.
One major source of waste begins with the 75 million Americans who have more than one chronic condition. These patients require multiple specialists and therapists, who often fail to coordinate care, resulting in misdiagnosis and excessive or conflicting treatments.
And it can take years for providers to adopt new medical advances, the report said. In one example, using beta blockers didn’t become standard practice for 13 years after they were shown to improve survival rates for heart attack victims.
President Obama’s 2010 health care law includes some provisions aimed at making the health care system more efficient, such as allowing Medicare to experiment with a new “bundled payment” system where doctors, hospitals and specialists are paid a lump sum for a patient’s care.