Thomson Reuters Study: Economic Value of Podiatric Physicians in Preventing Amputations

“The Economic Value of Specialized Lower-Extremity Medical Care by Podiatric Physicians in the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers,” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Vol. 101, No 2, March/April 2011.

• Thomson Reuters Healthcare carried out the study utilizing its MarketScan Data Base examining claims from 316,527 patients with commercial insurance (64 year of age and younger) and 157,529 patients with Medicare and an employer sponsored secondary insurance.

• The study focused on one specific aspect of diabetic foot care: those patients who developed a foot ulcer. For those who developed a foot ulcer, the year preceding their development of a foot ulcer was examined to see if they had seen a podiatrist. Those who saw a podiatrist were compared to those who did not over a three year time period.

• A comparison was then made between those who had at least one visit to a podiatrist prior to developing the foot ulcer to those who had no podiatry care in the year prior to developing the foot ulceration.

The results were significant:

• Average savings over a three-year time period (year before ulceration and two years after ulceration occurred): o Commercial Insurance: Savings of $19,686 per patient if they had at least one visit to a podiatrist in the year preceding their ulceration

o Medicare Insured: Savings of $4,271 per patient

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• Decrease in amputations: Limbs saved. 

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If we extrapolate these results so that all insured in the commercial and Medicare populations with diabetes and at risk for a foot ulceration had a visit to a podiatrist:

$1.97 billion could be saved in the commercial insurance group in one year 

$1.53 billion could be saved in the Medicare insurance group in one year 

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