Pennsylvanians land in the hospital for chronic illness

    Helping people manage their chronic illness, and stay out of the hospital, helps lower health care costs for all of us. WHYY reports on a new study that tracks Pennsylvania’s performance.

    Helping people manage their chronic illness, and stay out of the hospital, helps lower health care costs for all of us. WHYY reports on a new study that tracks Pennsylvania’s performance.

    Pennsylvania is doing worse than the rest of the country in helping people with diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions avoid the hospital.

    The state’s hospitalization rate has increased according to the new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

    Robert Field is a professor of public health at Drexel University. He says giving more people access to health coverage may help.

    Field: A lot of the reason that patients don’t get their regular check ups, and their regular primary care, is that they don’t have insurance to pay for it. And in particular they don’t have insurance to pay for prescription drugs, and that’s a key part of managing chronic conditions.

    Field says heart failure and other chronic conditions have to be managed actively. Considering the sophistication of Pennsylvania’s academic medical centers and insurance companies, he says the Commonwealth should be doing better.

    David Nash is dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health.

    He says hospitalizations for diabetes and asthma have increased considerably.

    Nash: Any hospitalization for asthma is considered a system failure because it’s a completely outpatient oriented chronic illness … any hospitalization for diabetes, other than serious complication. These chronic conditions should be eminently manageable, completely in the outpatient setting.

    The cost containment council tracked hospitalization rates for four illnesses and found that more than 25 percent of Pennsylvania patients are re-admitted for the same condition within a year.

    Nash says the report reflects poor coordination of care, and that’s a concern he says because hospitalization for chronic disease drives up health costs.

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