New study suggests shifting recovery setting could bolster healthcare cost reduction campaigns A new study sheds light on how healthcare providers can improve efficiency and achieve cost reduction quotas through a shift in post-acute care.

The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation this week released the findings of a study it conducted that found when home healthcare is used as the first setting for post-acute care, Medicare spends less on average. With hospitals and other healthcare providers continuing to struggle to develop new cost reduction initiatives amid mounting demand for such services, the results are particularly noteworthy, experts said.

Researchers from the organization noted that when home healthcare was used on patients undergoing major joint replacement as a first setting following surgery, it resulted in average cost savings of more than $5,400 per patient. The findings join a growing body of research indicating home healthcare is a cost-effective way to treat patients who have recently undergone a number of medical procedures.

"In examining the beneficiary claims data, we identified consistent patterns in Medicare payment across multiple post-acute care settings that show where individuals seek care for clinical conditions, and how much the cost of care varies based on care setting," lead researcher Allen Dobson said in a statement. "The data provide unique insight into how home healthcare is being utilized in comparison to other sites of care and how Medicare payments compare across settings, which can be an invaluable tool in developing new Medicare payment policies."

The U.S. government and many state legislatures have worked to improve healthcare efficiency and implement cost reduction campaigns over the past few decades. However, costs have continued to surge at a rapid clip, and policy experts have failed to propose actionable results, experts contend.

The latest research findings from the Alliance for Home Health Quality, however, suggest that healthcare providers could, in fact, significantly reduce costs and improve patient outcomes by shifting the setting of their post-acute care procedures, according to Teresa Lee, the group's executive director.

"The CACEP project uses the Medicare program's own claims and assessment data to describe the care provided to Medicare patients and how much it costs, particularly looking at post-acute, pre-acute and community-based care," she said. "These Working Papers contain information that will provide U.S. policy leaders with a comprehensive resource on Medicare payment and utilization to help inform decision-making on healthcare system reforms. As we seek to foster improved coordination of care and reduce cost, these data are critical."

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