Letter: Insurance companies, clinics and hospitals should team upI have an idea that might appeal to health insurance companies and health care providers. If its already out there, my apologies. If senior citizens are prone to urinary tract infections with vague or no symptoms that can become serious and lead to significant illness and falls, then the following might be a way to prevent it.
To the editor,
I have an idea that might appeal to health insurance companies and health care providers. If its already out there, my apologies. If senior citizens are prone to urinary tract infections with vague or no symptoms that can become serious and lead to significant illness and falls, then the following might be a way to prevent it.
What if you coordinated a study between a health insurance company, a clinic, and a hospital? The goal would be to see if doing urinalysis (a microscopic exam of urine, and what is called a dipstick test) at annual visits and sick visits for people over the age of 65 reduced emergency room visits and hospital stays.
Everyone over the age of 65 coming in would get the test (unless they declined) for the period of one year. The results would be gathered. Then see how many people come up with urinary tract infections who had vague or no symptoms. Then compare the number of seniors who ended up in the ER related to urinary tract infections the year before the study, and the year that the study is conducted. See if there is a reduction in number of ER visits related to urinary tract infections. Of course, you can’t predict from year to year how many people will have illness. But you could compare the number in the test group to a control group that didn’t do the urinalysis study. In this way, you could compare the percentage of people in each group. I would bet even if only a few broken hips were prevented, it would be a whopping cost savings to the health insurance company. A urinalysis is extremely cheap and easy compared to fixing a broken hip!
A study like this would prove the usefulness, or the lack of usefulness of doing the test. Insurance companies would spend a small amount up front to save a potentially large amount for an ER visit and hospitalization. The clinic may benefit from additional testing. And clinicians may be more open to automatically running the test if insurance companies were encouraging it. I would hope hospitals would prefer not to see people in for these problems. But in the above study, I can’t see a financial incentive to do it. Perhaps the insurance company could offer an incentive plan. The patient would get good care, and hopefully better quality of life for a longer period of time. And perhaps our insurance premiums would not go up.