JAMA study shows patients aren’t always responsible for unnecessary treatments

A study by JAMA Oncology found that patients don't often request unnecessary procedures.

For high-stakes medical conditions like cancer, doctors and health care facility administrators have long suspected that patients are prone to pursue unnecessary treatment. According to a study by Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology, the number of superfluous treatments and procedures is much lower than some would estimate. 

"The survey, which tracked 60 Philadelphia-based clinicians' interactions with about 3,600 cancer patients, found that patients asked for a particular treatment in only 8.7 percent of those exchanges. Of those requests, doctors considered only 11.4 percent to be for inappropriate or unnecessary care," explains a post by Kaiser Health on Healthcare Finance News. "Those findings, the paper's authors write, indicate that patient demands are likely not the impetus for unnecessary procedures."

Some figures have estimated the annual cost of "unnecessary" treatment to be as great as one-third of the $2.8 trillion spent annually on medical care. The study indicates that the impetus for those treatments might come from doctors and medical professionals, not necessarily the patients themselves. Rather than addressing the problem through patient education, it would appear that care providers themselves can make progress to reduce the incidence of unnecessary care. The JAMA study focused primarily on oncology, but other areas of medicine are susceptible to waste and inefficiency due to non-essential medical care. 

A higher volume of unnecessary treatments leads to a larger log of claims and cases to manage in an accounts receivable office. When care facilities outsource receivables management, they unburden administrators and allow them to focus on the most high-priority cases in at any given time. Contact Professional Medical Services today to learn more about our solutions for hospitals, private practices and other medical care facilities.