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Involving Patients in Decisions Raises Health Care Costs, Study Finds
Date:5/28/2013

TUESDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Although doctors and patients have long been urged to share decision-making, new research finds that patients who are involved in their care spend more time in the hospital and increase the cost of their hospital stay.

Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that patients who share in decision-making raise the cost of their admission by an average of $865.

"The result that everyone would have liked -- that patients who are more engaged in their care do better and cost less -- is not what we found in this setting," the study's author, Dr. David Meltzer, associate professor of medicine, economics and public policy at the University of Chicago, said in a university news release. "Patients who want to be more involved do not have lower costs. Patients, as consumers, may value elements of care that the health care system might not."

The researchers said there are roughly 35 million hospitalizations each year in the United States. They calculated that if 30 percent of those patients shared in decision-making on their care instead of allowing their doctor to call the shots, it would result in $8.7 billion in additional costs every year.

Meltzer said he was not surprised by the findings. "I wasn't shocked. It could have gone either way. Our results suggest that encouraging patients to be more involved will not, alone, reduce costs," he said. "We need to think harder and learn more about what it means to empower patients in multiple health care settings and how incentives facing both patients and caregivers in those settings can influence decisions."

For the study, which was published in the May 27 issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers asked all patients admitted to the University of Chicago's general internal medicine service between July 2003 and August 2011 to complete an extensive survey. Nearly 22,000 people participated.'/>"/>

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