Healthcare systems cut the cost of chronic care by 2


WASHINGTON (March 8, 2022) – According to a new white paper published by the Family Medicine Education Consortium and the Samueli Foundation, health care systems and clinics in the United States are reporting reduced costs, improved patient experience and health, while improving clinician well-being by providing integrative care. The case for providing comprehensive health care details how shifting treatment practices to a whole-person approach that integrates evidence-based conventional medicine, non-drug treatments, and self-care can help achieve far-reaching systemic improvements.

“Our health care system was designed to treat acute disease, not to prevent and manage chronic disease,” said Wayne Jonas, MD, co-author of the white paper and executive director of integrative health at the Foundation. Samueli. “Mismanagement of chronic disease has led to ever-increasing health care costs; decline in life expectancy and quality of life; increasing patient dissatisfaction; and supplier burnout. Now, we have examples of how to meet these challenges: by providing a healthcare model that benefits both the patient and the healthcare system’s bottom line.

Rather than simply fighting disease, integrative health focuses on improving health by addressing broader factors that affect the whole person, such as mental health, self-care and lifestyle, as well as the social and economic determinants of health that shape the quality of life in places. where people live, learn, work and play, Jonas said.

Since 2020, the Family Medicine Education Consortium, or FMEC, has been working with the Samueli Foundation and 17 clinics across the country in a learning partnership to improve the delivery of integrative, family-centered health practices. person in routine primary care.

“The 17 health systems that are implementing this approach to care are improving patient outcomes, reducing frustration that leads to provider burnout, and moving towards substantial cost savings for their health systems,” said Raj Woolever , MD, FMEC President. “Among other things, holistic care of the person reduces drug costs, results in fewer emergency room visits and shortens length of hospital stays. With these results, any health system would benefit from considering this model of care.

The article highlights case studies of US health systems that have implemented this integrative approach to care, including the Veteran’s Administration, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, Southcentral Foundation in Alaska and other health plans.

The Veterans Administration, for example, piloted an integrative health model four years ago for 133,476 veterans at 18 sites. The VA whole person approach has evolved from a transactional disease-focused system to a relationship-focused, team-based treatment model that addresses physical, emotional, and social factors.

The results of the VA have been remarkable, Jonas said. Health care costs were lower for veterans who received comprehensive health services in 2018 and 2019, compared to those who also received conventional care, including:

  • 12% to 24% cost reduction in all categories except drugs
  • 4.1% lower increase in drug costs
  • $4,845 total savings per person (20%)

Additionally, veterans with chronic pain who received comprehensive health services, compared to those who received usual care, reported healthier behaviors and small improvements in their sense of life, well- being and their quality of life.

Overall, the health systems profiled in the white paper reported positive results from integrating non-drug, complementary, and alternative methods into their care, including:

  • Better patient outcomes: Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania began providing free food and nutrition education as a treatment for diabetes, as well as patient education. Patients averaged a 2-point drop in A1C, a blood sugar measurement, as well as a drop in weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol. In another study conducted at the University of Michigan, 82.4% of patients reported an improvement in their overall quality of life, 55% cited a “significant difference” in their symptoms, and 7.1% said it did. “solved my problem completely”.
  • Improved patient experience: The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Primary Care Clinic reported improvements in patient experience, with 93% of patients rating trust in their practitioner between 7 and 10; and approximately 89% rating overall satisfaction between 7 and 10. In the University of Michigan study, 62% of patients receiving integrative care rated their treatment as “excellent” or “best care ever.” “.
  • Reduced costs: In addition to the lower costs of VA care cited above, a study of integrative primary care by Alternative Medicine, Inc., a Chicago-area group, showed lower costs for patients receiving chiropractic care, compared to compared to those who received traditional care alone. This resulted in 43% fewer hospital admissions, 58.4% fewer hospital days and 51.8% lower drug costs.
  • Improved clinician experience: VA employees who were involved in overall health reported being more engaged and less likely to experience burnout, which increased workforce stability.

To get a copy of The case for providing comprehensive health care, visit


About the Samueli Foundation

The Samueli Foundation’s integrative health programs are dedicated to promoting personal health and well-being with the support of dedicated health teams in all proven approaches, including conventional, complementary and self-care. Dr. Wayne Jonas, former director of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine and former director of a World Health Organization traditional medicine center, is a clinical professor of family medicine at Uniformed Services University and Georgetown University School of Medicine.

About the Consortium for Education in Family Medicine

The Consortium for Family Medicine Education is a catalyst, convener, and incubator that connects those interested in improving community health by strengthening family medicine, primary care services, and medical education. AEMC serves 14 states and the District of Columbia in the Northeast region of the United States, working with 60 family medicine departments of family medicine, 195 family medicine residency programs, and thousands of family physicians and physicians. other community health care providers. Through an annual meeting of nearly 1,000 health care professionals, annual awards, learning communities, and quality improvement projects, FMEC inspires medical students to pursue careers in family medicine, strengthens academic family medicine through faculty development and leadership experiences, and stimulates innovative approaches at the elementary level. provision of care services.

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