Healthcare Update Week in Review: Medical Homes for Teens, Healthcare Spending Slow

Monday, April 29th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

A majority of mental health issues emerge in adolescence, with 14 being the most prominent age, according to a new study from UCSF’s Department of Pediatrics.

It’s a frightening statistic; at a time when kids are dealing with real life situations (grades, peer pressure, pimples) they also have to struggle with less tangible conditions, like anxiety, depression, even learning disorders.

Yet, despite the widely known prevalence of this, nearly half of today’s adolescents lack a medical home, which could provide them with the appropriate treatment, researchers say. The medical home’s comprehensive, team-based care could be the best way to help teens and families through this scary time. More on how this healthcare model can be effective inside this issue.

Assessing the effectiveness of team-based care delivery methods is also the subject of a new study published in Population Health Management.

Researchers from George Washington University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Carilion Family Medicine conducted case studies of small primary care practices to assess three team-based care models and to see if they can improve primary care delivery and patient outcomes. Improving patient care, practice workflows, and patient and physician satisfaction, researchers say, are competencies that have become expected of physicians as the healthcare landscape evolves.

The art of appreciative inquiry, a health coaching tool that is becoming more accepted in the medical community, can also help improve patient care and satisfaction. While all coaching tools are used to help inspire and engage people, appreciative inquiry is particularly effective because it builds on a person’s strengths instead of weaknesses, says Dennis Richling, MD, chief medical and wellness officer for HealthFitness. Too often attention goes into fixing what’s broken instead; by tapping into what’s already positive, the person is empowered to continue to make positive changes.

Fixing the nation’s economy is key to the record slow growth in health spending in recent years, say analysts in a new Kaiser Family Foundation report.

Based on statistical modeling and analysis by health cost experts at the Foundation and Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending, studies find that the economy is responsible for 77 percent of the slowdown in health spending, a category encompassing what individuals, employers and governments collectively spend. The remaining 23 percent results from changes in the healthcare system, including higher deductibles and other cost-sharing that dampen patients’ use of services, as well as various forms of managed care and delivery system changes.

Though the recession will likely continue to dampen health spending growth over the next couple of years, the study projects that expected economic growth will drive up health spending in years ahead, gradually adding 3.5 percentage points to the annual growth rate by 2019. This would push the annual growth rate in health spending back over 7 percent, which is much closer to historical averages.

And lastly, current methods for estimating the costs and savings of federal health legislation also need to be fixed, because they are missing billions of dollars in potential long-term returns from effective obesity prevention policies, according to a new study released by the Campaign to End Obesity.

Changing the way cost estimates are created would give policymakers a clearer picture of costs and savings, the report concludes.

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