How High-Need Patients Experience Health Care in the United States

How High-Need Patients Experience Health Care in the United States

Findings from the 2016 Commonwealth Fund Survey of High-Need Patients, Conducted by SSRS

Issue: Health care costs are highly concentrated among people with multiple chronic conditions, behavioral health problems, and those with physical limitations or disabilities. With a better understanding of these patients’ challenges, health care systems and providers can address patients’ complex social, behavioral, and medical needs more effectively and efficiently.

Goal: To investigate how the challenges faced by this population affect their experiences with the health care system and examine potential opportunities for improvement.

Methods: Analysis of the 2016 Commonwealth Fund Survey of High-Need Patients, June–September 2016.

Key findings and conclusions: The health care system is currently failing to meet the complex needs of these patients. High-need patients have greater unmet behavioral health and social issues than do other adults and require greater support to help manage their complex medical and nonmedical requirements. Results indicate that with better access to care and good patient–provider communication, high-need patients are less likely to delay essential care and less likely to go to the emergency department for nonurgent care, and thus less likely to accrue avoidable costs. For health systems to improve outcomes and lower costs, they must assess patients’ comprehensive needs, increase access to care, and improve how they communicate with patients.