Report: $750B a year in healthcare wasted

Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:28 AM   |   Comments

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Thirty percent of U.S. health spending in 2009 -- about $750 billion -- was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive overhead and fraud, researchers say.

Mark D. Smith, president and chief executive officer of California HealthCare Foundation and Institute of Medicine committee chairman, said these healthcare inefficiencies cause needless suffering.

By one estimate, roughly 75,000 deaths might have been averted in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality level of the best performing state, Smith added.

"The threats to Americans' health and economic security are clear and compelling, and it's time to get all hands on deck," Smith said in a statement. "Our healthcare system lags in its ability to adapt, affordably meet patients' needs and consistently achieve better outcomes. Our report offers the vision and road map to create a learning healthcare system that will provide higher quality and greater value."

Better use of data is a critical element of a continuously improving health system -- health professionals and patients frequently lack relevant and useful information at the point of care where decisions are made, the report said.

In an age of instant messaging, it took 13 years for the use of beta blockers to become standard practice among doctors after they were shown to improve survival rates for heart attack victims, the report said.

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