An average American, feeling the pinch of inflationary costs for healthcare is seeking real solutions that can help in healthcare cost containment. Policy decisions and proactive measures to help retain sustainable development in patient care models are two significant changes that need the immediate attention of all stakeholders.
However, the real problem is at critical junctions, and without every step of inclusive involvement and corrective measures, a significant affirmative impact cannot be imagined.
What is healthcare cost containment?
Containing costs refers to reducing or minimizing expenses without impacting the quality of the end product. Healthcare cannot take shortcuts by offering a secondhand version of care. Such decisions directly impact lives and are not an alternative route.
A cost map to understand where expenses can be controlled for present and future needs will identify the problem areas. The approach to control costs has to be a sustainable model reflecting the benefits for the future.
Cost control is an ongoing part of any business-as-usual organizational process. It cannot be treated in a silo when figuring out the solutions. The process and approach are inbuilt into the existing workflow management. Healthcare cost containment is a global problem, and reversing the trend by integrating the functions to determine solutions is an urgent requirement of governments across the world.
Effective steps for healthcare cost containment
- Planning and budget control
Every aspect of healthcare has to be treated as a function. The attributable costs for a given process need to be assessed. Pre-planning the requirement for supplies without resorting to wastage will help reduce a lot of unnecessary expenses that are billed but never used.
For instance, using predictive analytics, if the number of ambulatory cases for a period based on data insights is established, then related medical supplies are ordered for a given clinic. In this manner, just in case there is an emergency or influx of patients, there is a small room for extra supplies.
Unused medical supplies lead to a donation to third-world countries or landfill projects. This is one of the biggest burn-holes of medical costs that should be effectively contained. Arrangements with vendors to supply within the least turnaround time can also help in managing costs.
- Use of precision medical technology
A stitch in time saves nine. This adage holds in healthcare costs as well. By investing in improved precision medical technology, ailments related to critical illness can be detected at an early stage. With timely intervention, costs related to healthcare will be minimized over the period. Early-stage detection has the double benefit of reducing the cost and better chance at fighting the disease as it was detected way before the disease spread and incapacitates body organs and tissues.
- Sensitivity to change
Changes in factors that influence costs drive them up or down. Establishing the sensitivity to change and provisioning in the accounts to meet the cushion for such unwarranted expenses will prepare an organization better in battling the rising costs.
With sensitivity analysis, adjustments are often made to adjust to budgets. For example, a prescription drug that is recommended for a common ailment may not be easily available in the future. Then alternatives to the drug will be featured, and studies related to its effective prescription model will be taken up. The unavailability of drugs can be either temporary or a permanent episode, but the related costs and patient care dependent on the drug should not suffer because of the turn of events.
- Sustainable changes to contain costs
Any change that can attribute a long-term impact in reducing costs will help in building and bringing sustainable development. For instance, RPMs, telehealth services, and hospital-at-home programs despite the technical tools and developed medical practices had a tepid response in terms of acceptance. There was a skeptical approach to launching these programs with only a few major healthcare centers taking the lead. But post-pandemic, all of these programs displayed better patient outcomes and higher acceptance.
Quality of patient care has improved with value-added healthcare services like RPM and telehealth. Patients and their family members have reported that hospital at home was a better model than hospital care. With increasing acceptance, these methods should be used to contain costs while nipping the wastage in the current system.