Dr. Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and chief executive officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and Andrew Hackbarth, a policy analyst for the RAND Corp., said the waste was in six areas.
The six categories of healthcare waste were:
-- Over treatment.
-- Failures of care coordination.
-- Failures in execution of care processes.
-- Administrative complexity.
-- Pricing failures.
-- Fraud and abuse.
The six areas represent enormous opportunities for cost-cutting and improvement, but the actual total might be far greater, they say.
"The savings potentially achievable from systematic, comprehensive and cooperative pursuit of even a fractional reduction in waste are far higher than from more direct and blunter cuts in care and coverage," Berwick said in a statement.
"The need is urgent to bring U.S. healthcare costs into a sustainable range for both public and private payers. Commonly, programs to contain costs use cuts, such as reductions in payment levels, benefit structures and eligibility. A less harmful strategy would reduce waste, not value-added care. The opportunity is immense."
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.