Today, the Health Economics Program (HEP) of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released results from an analysis of low-value services in Minnesota in 2014. This issue brief used the Minnesota All Payer Claims Database (MN APCD), a comprehensive community data asset that includes public and private insurance claims for nearly all Minnesotans.
More than 450 types of low-value health care services have been identified nationally by consumer groups and medical societies. One initiative, Choosing Wisely, aims to identify opportunities for patients and providers to work together to improve the efficiency and safety of health care by reducing the volume of services that provide little benefit to patients and have the potential to cause harm. The MDH study focused on a set of 18 low-value tests that fall into two main categories: diagnostic imaging and disease screening.
Key findings from the study include:
- In 2014, there were about 92,000 encounters associated with low-value diagnostic imaging, 69,000 encounters with low-value disease screening, and 15,000 encounters with low-value pre-operative testing.
- Total spending on all 18 low-value services measured was $54.9 million.
- Minnesotans spent $9.25 million out of pocket for these services.
- Diagnostic imaging for uncomplicated headaches was the most common and most costly low-value service observed, accounting for 40 percent of overall cost.
The issue brief, available on the HEP home page, contributes new information to help understand ways to promote high-value care in Minnesota. Reducing low-value services will require collaboration across stakeholders to bring about a culture change for providers and patients. Opportunities to make progress in this vein include shifting economic incentives away from low-value services, helping patients to understand the risks and benefits of certain services, facilitating and promoting conversations between providers and patients, improving continuity of care and information sharing, and developing technology-driven provider tools.
MDH is eager to contribute to this work by collaborating with stakeholders to identify measurement, analyses and delivery reforms that can lead us closer to a high-value patient-centered system of care.
More information about broader, ongoing work using the MN APCD is available in our MN APCD Fact Sheet.