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Single Podiatrist Visit: $3.5 Billion in US Health-Care Savings Per Year

Results Now Published in Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association

Bethesda, MD - If every American at risk for developing a diabetic foot ulcer visited a podiatrist once before complications set in, the US health-care system could save $3.5 billion in one year. Closing this gap in podiatric care would reduce health-care waste on preventable conditions, which reportedly starts at $25 billion, by 14 percent.

This estimation is a projection based on findings from a Thomson Reuters study published in the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA).

The study's numbers were based upon the American population that has either commercial insurance (116 million) or Medicare (46 million) in the Thomson Reuters MarketScan Research Database. Sponsored by APMA and independently conducted by Thomson Reuters, the study measured the health-care records of nearly 500,000 patients with commercial insurance and/or Medicare.

"The study's findings are astounding. If just one individual at risk for a foot ulcer sees a podiatrist once before a foot ulcer becomes apparent, they will have singlehandedly saved our country nearly $20,000 over three years," said Kathleen Stone, DPM, president of APMA. "This data does not even include the 47 million uninsured Americans or the 58 million currently on Medicaid, who have a higher incidence of diabetes and complications. The bottom line is that seeing a podiatrist saves limbs and lives, and equates to billions of needed dollars saved for America's health-care system."

After comparing health and risk factors for those who had seen a podiatrist for care to those who did not, the commercial insurance group saved $19,686 per patient over a three-year period. The Medicare group saved $4,271 per patient over the same three years. Conservatively projected, these per-patient numbers support an estimated $10.5 billion in savings over three years ($3.5 billion a year).

Including today's podiatrist in the diabetes management team is a vital step to preventing ulcers and amputation. Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that in 2006, more than 65,000 lower limb amputations were performed in the US due to diabetes-related complications.

Diabetes currently affects nearly 26 million people in the US, seven million of whom are undiagnosed.

For additional information on the study, visit www.apma.org/study-summary.  

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