Physicians say that as much as 11.1% of all surgical procedures are given inappropriately.
Aside from the risks these unneeded procedures pose to patients, they also come at outrageous prices. The annual cost of unnecessary surgery for every 1,000 employees in your company — about $250,000.
Clearly, inappropriate surgeries are a problem you can’t afford to ignore. But what can your company do about them?
First, it’s important to understand the underlying issues.
The problem is two-pronged:
- The Surgeons that Supply Them
Perverse incentives drive surgeons a little too quickly to the operating room. Whether they’re practicing defensive medicine or drumming up profitable patient volumes, providers feel compelled to offer surgery, even when it may not benefit the patient.
- The Patients that Demand Them
Unversed in clinical risk, and trained to believe that “the customer’s always right,” patients might seek out whatever treatment they believe will help them — even against the advice of doctors. They may even pressure providers, or shop around until they find one who will comply with their wishes.
What can employers do?
The good news: self-insured employers have tools to address both the Suppliers and the Demanders of unnecessary surgery.
Smarter benefits design can incentivize surgeons to exercise more caution in providing care. It can also exclude surgeons who have a history of over-utilization.
Well-deployed education programs can teach employees to carefully weigh their care options. A better grasp of surgical dangers, and a more complete understanding of alternative treatments, will curb employees’ appetites for risky procedures.
A Resource to Show the Way
Our free white paper, How to Keep Your Employees from Getting Unnecessary Surgery, explores the root causes of the inappropriate surgery problem, and gives your company an action-plan for how to address it. Just click below to download.