Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis could save U.S. $7.9 billion

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Mar• 22•18

That is the conclusion from a Bloomberg article highlighting some research done by some of my colleagues at Precision Health Economics in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association.  An excerpt is below.

The Alzheimer’s Association commissioned researchers at Precision Health Economics to study the potential savings of obtaining an earlier diagnosis. It used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a “nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older” run by the University of Michigan and supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.

The $7.9 trillion in savings was derived from a scenario in which all adults who develop Alzheimer’s receive an early diagnosis in the MCI stage. The cumulative cost in such a circumstance is projected at $39.2 trillion—far below the $47.1 trillion that would be spent under current diagnostic patterns.

“We know that there’s a spike in medical spending around the time of diagnosis,” said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It’s actually quite expensive to do things that way.”

“You can save a significant amount of money just through better early diagnosis,” he said.

For example, managed dementia is less expensive to treat because it reduces the chances of missing medication or incurring avoidable costs, Fargo said. It’s more costly to be diagnosed in the later stages because that’s likely to occur only after an expensive trip to the hospital

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.  Alzheimer’s death rose by 123% between 2000 and 2015.   The articles conclusion–with which I whole-heartedly agree–is that more scientific research is needed to address this disease that will become increasingly deadly as Americans life spans continue to grow.

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