June 3, 2009

Preventive care savings calculator devised

Most in healthcare agree preventative medicine saves money, but U.S. researchers developed a return on investment calculator to measure the savings.

The research team developed an algorithm that calculates a return on investment ratio, thereby quantifying the value of mobile healthcare to the overall healthcare system.

To help test the calculator, the researchers used the Family Van, a program of the Harvard Medical School, a mobile clinic providing preventative healthcare and education to poor areas throughout Boston.

First author Nancy Oriol, dean of students at Harvard Medical School and of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said the van provides screening, testing and education in areas such as nutrition, weight management, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The goal is to train and educate people in taking the steps to prevent or better manage chronic disease.

People talk about the value of preventative measures all the time, but no one has ever really captured the important contribution of the many non-traditional prevention-based programs like the Family Van, Oriol said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that in the long run, each dollar invested in the family van will return $36.