The legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite once said that “America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” Perhaps he was being a little glib, but few would argue that the system is a mess—we spend far more per capita on health care than any other country, yet our outcomes trail much of the developed world.
There are plenty of causes for the mess we’re in, and an even greater number of proposed solutions, but I’m not going to debate health care reform here. (For that, you might want to follow @aslavitt and @bobkocher on Twitter).
But I’ll point out one thing that becomes evident when you dig in to the numbers: US healthcare costs are driven by the most expensive patients. The top five percent of patients are responsible for almost half of US healthcare spending. And the most expensive one percent of patients consume eight times the healthcare dollars ($275B) of the entire bottom 50 percent of the population combined.
Over the past decade, a large crop of companies have started tackling this part of health care spending. And regardless of where the Affordable Care Act battle goes, these companies are building meaningful businesses in not only reducing the cost of care for these patients, but in improving patient outcomes and quality of life.
At Cricket Health, we are building one of those companies, by focusing on a patient population that makes up a large chunk of this top one percent–Americans with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). In fact, CKD and the way it’s managed in this country is a great microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the US healthcare system.