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The Problem of Rising Healthcare Costs in the US


Rising costs are a growing problem in the US healthcare systems. Looking for solutions to this issue is a crucial element for the government and health practitioners. Reducing health expenditures will have beneficial outcomes for the government, healthcare establishments, and patients. Many current studies discuss the issue of rising health costs. Lee and Manuel (2013) and Principi (2015) emphasize the importance of reducing the costs and note the nurse practitioners’ role in this process. Shared decision-making and the use of telehealth are noted as the most effective cost-saving methods.

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Shared Decision-Making

One of the solutions to the problem of high health costs is shared decision-making (Lee & Emanuel, 2013). This approach suggests many advantages for medical workers, patients, and the whole healthcare system. Employing shared decision-making allows one to broaden patients’ knowledge, decrease the apprehension about the healthcare process, and enhance health consequences. What is also important is that shared decision-making helps to significantly reduce the unjustified expenditures on healthcare (Lee & Emanuel, 2013).

While the researchers remark that this method is, unfortunately, not favored by most healthcare institutions, they note its outstanding significance for cost reduction. For instance, 20 percent of patients involved in decision-making are reported to prefer “less invasive surgical options” (Lee & Emanuel, 2013, p. 7). Such a choice leads to saving a large amount of money. An estimation made by Lewin Group in 2008 suggested that enforcing shared decision-making at least eleven procedures would make it possible to save nearly nine billion dollars in a decade (Lee & Emanuel, 2013, p. 7). Another study performed by Group Health in 2012 demonstrated that arranging the decision assistance to patients qualified for knee and hip replacements led to considerable surgery rates and costs reduction (Lee & Emanuel, 2013, p. 7).

Telehealth as a Cost-Saving Method

Another modern method of cost reduction involves the use of telehealth. Among other positive outcomes, such as making care more comfortable and filling in the gaps in the care system, implementing telehealth is noted as having a positive impact on medical expenditures (Principi, 2015). Contemporary research by Towers Watson reveals that telehealth may allow economizing six billion dollars every year in the US healthcare expenditure (Principi, 2015). Therefore, there is great potential in applying this technology. The specialists note the three most vital positive changes in applying telehealth: decreased readmission rates, improved utilization of the medical workers, and reduced quantity of preventable admissions (Principi, 2015).


Achieving the reduction in readmission rates is one of the key targets as hospital readmissions take up to $26 billion per year (Principi, 2015). Telehealth can be employed to help fight plenty of readmission incidents by enhancing follow-up care. The use of telehealth in improving staff utilization is realized by enabling better distribution of the staff and balancing the resources (Principi, 2015). Minimizing the quantity of potentially preventable admissions is another optimal way of reducing medical costs. The help of telehealth in preventative outreach is accomplished through assisting in regular monitoring and patient care with the aim of identifying the highest hospitalization risks (Principi, 2015).

Implementing the strategies of shared decision-making and telehealth technology should be done with the active participation of the nursing team members. The nursing staff is the biggest community in any medical institution’s structure. Nurses communicate with the patients on a daily basis, know their major problems, and therefore have a decisive role in implementing the cost reduction procedures.


Lee, E. O., & Emanuel, E. J. (2013). Shared decision making to improve care and reduce costs. The New Journal of Medicine, 368(1), 6-8.

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Principi. B. (2015). How hospitals are reducing medical costs with telehealth. American Well. Web.

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