May 2018

Podiatry Care May Lead to Reduced Hospitalizations and Opioid Prescription, Study Shows

A New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) survey, initiated in late 2017, has found that expanding podiatry’s role in health care may lead to reduced hospitalizations, long-term health care costs, and opioid prescription in 4 target groups: diabetes, obesity, substance abuse/back pain, and fall prevention. Improvement in health care in these conditions aligns with New York’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program health goals.

NYSPMA contracted with Navigant Consulting last year to conduct the study to assess the value of podiatric services in helping to reach state goals in these 4 target conditions. The ensuing report, released in April, indicates that patient utilization of podiatric services could lead to reductions in adverse problems and to increased cost-savings, particularly among people with chronic back pain in conjunction with a podiatric-related condition.

The opioid epidemic has been a frequent topic of discussion in the news and with lawmakers. According to the NYSPMA, the number of drug-related overdose deaths in New York increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 33,091 deaths from opioid overdose occurred nationally in 2015. The NYSPMA survey estimates that utilization of podiatric services may reduce opioid dispensation for chronic back- and podiatric-related pain diagnoses to 18,000 people per year, a reduction of 28%.

In addition, the study found that hospitalizations for foot ulcers treated by podiatrist could be reduced by as much as 37%. Potential healthcare savings across podiatry-related conditions could reach as much as $510 million in 1 year. NYSPMA says that in New York alone 1.6 million people with diabetes have foot ulcers, which are the leading cause of hospitalizations among people with diabetes.

The full white paper, “Podiatric Services Deliver Value and Improved Health Outcomes,” is available upon request from the NYSPMA.

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