Health care quality vs. costs

Columns w DiagnosisHere’s what we at the Diagnosis Foundation (DxF) have been doing to improve health care quality and simultaneously bring down costs. We have initiated a series of public health care screens that attempts to address early stage causes of diseases. The current screening program is looking at the balance of muscle strength in either the arm or leg regions. We test 12 muscles in each limb semi-quantitatively using manual muscle strength testing (1 rep max). People with abnormal results are counseled to follow up with a provider skilled in differential diagnosis of muscle strength imbalance causes (i.e. activity imbalances, neurological causes, vascular, bio-chemical, etc.) who can also provide treatment. What we are currently finding is the vast majority of people with muscle strength imbalances are due to imbalanced activities that develop muscle strength and incomplete follow up of rehabilitative exercises after traumatic muscle strains.

The goal is to prevent the development of certain forms of osteoarthritis related to imbalanced muscle strength. The category of joint pain is the #1 cause of disability in the US and the #2 reason for doctor’s office visits. The direct and indirect financial costs related to joint pain is conservatively estimated to be $65 billion per year in the US. I am unaware of what percentage of these costs is related to imbalanced muscle strength.

Based upon our screening program to date, it seems very likely that significant imbalances of joint muscle strength are very wide spread. In addition, the costs affiliated with detecting this underlying cause of certain forms of osteoarthritis is strikingly low. Screeners can be trained to detect muscle strength imbalances with a short training course and expenses for equipment and supplies are essentially zero.

The Diagnosis Foundation is involved in establishing the screens, training personnel to perform the screens and establishing a database of providers skilled in the appropriate follow up procedures. It is the intention of the DxF to replicate screening programs like this, which look at a wide rage of fundamental causes of diseases that can be done at low costs. Soon to follow will be screens that are addressing essential nutrient deficiencies.

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