Shared Decisionmaking May Spur Higher Costs, Longer Hospital Stays: Researchers

Engaging patients in their care is often touted as a surefire way to control costs and reduce utilization of services, but new research calls that assumption into question.

Armed with eight years of survey data from more than 20,000 patients, researchers from the University of Chicago argue that shared decisionmaking may actually result in increased inpatient spending and longer lengths of stay.

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Source: Modern Healthcare

“Lots of people, including me, believe that engaging patients will improve health outcomes and satisfaction,” Dr. David Meltzer, chief of hospital medicine and an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Chicago, and a co-author of the study, said in an interview. “People have extended that idea to mean that it also lowers costs, and that's not so clear.”

According to the study, published today by JAMA Internal Medicine, patients who indicated a strong preference for involved decisionmaking—based on their level of agreement with the statement, “I prefer to leave decisions about my care up to my doctor”—incurred healthcare costs that were 6% higher, or an average of $865 more per hospital stay. Their lengths of stay were also about 5% longer.