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Study Puts Spotlight on Preventing Fall-Related Injuries

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 23, 2014

A five-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute aims to identify "the most effective combination of falls-prevention strategies to fit the needs of different individuals and different healthcare systems."


Wu

Albert Wu, MD

An upcoming federal research project to prevent falls in seniors 75 and older may seem to have little relevance for hospital and physician leaders. But the impact its findings may have on hospital costs and reimbursement from payers is potentially enormous.

"The reason the industry should be interested in this study is that very soon, if not already, you will be accountable for the care of a defined population of patients, not just those who fall while in the hospital," says Albert Wu, MD, who directs the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Announced last month by the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, is described as the first "large-scale study to identify the most effective combination of falls prevention strategies to fit the needs of different individuals and different health care systems."

Treatment of falls in older adults cost the U.S. healthcare system $30 billion in direct medical costs, in 2010 according to the CDC. And costs increase rapidly as people age because their injuries and their complications become tougher to treat.

Rewards for quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals in accountable care organizations means that "if your patients do badly, that's on your watch. The way things are going is that payment systems will drive [providers] to be more responsible for populations of people rather than one patient at a time.

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1 comments on "Study Puts Spotlight on Preventing Fall-Related Injuries"


Barbara J. Pedrozo (7/24/2014 at 9:28 AM)
I am not a clinical observer but have watched both my mother and mother in law go into the hospitals (they all do the same thing) for a medical episode and become debilitated when they are not allowed to get up from the bed and walk with their walker. So from my perspective, you may have saved costs for injuries but there is a cost to the longer care they require because they are not allowed to get up, quickly eroding their strength. This is a travesty because it becomes soooo hard to rehabilitate them back from the episode. And it is all because we do not let them get up to go to the bathroom like they are accustomed to and very capable of doing. How about if someone invents a "fall protection" sling that allows them to get up but saves them if something happens. Then we will have accomplished something remarkable.