Health System Performance for the High-Need Patient: A Look at Access to Care and Patient Care Experiences

Claudia A. Salzberg, Susan L. Hayes, Douglas McCarthy, David C. Radley, Melina K. Abrams, Tanya Shah, Gerard F. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Issue: Achieving a high-performing health system will require improving outcomes and reducing costs for high-need, high-cost patients--those who use the most health care services and account for a disproportionately large share of health care spending. Goal: To compare the health care experiences of adults with high needs--those with three or more chronic diseases and a functional limitation in the ability to care for themselves or perform routine daily tasks--to all adults and to those with multiple chronic diseases but no functional limitations. Methods: Analysis of data from the 2009--2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Key findings: High-need adults were more likely to report having an unmet medical need and less likely to report having good patient-provider communication. High-need adults reported roughly similar ease of obtaining specialist referrals as other adults and greater likelihood of having a medical home. While adults with private health insurance reported the fewest unmet needs overall, privately insured high-need adults reported the greatest difficulties having their needs met. Conclusion: The health care system needs to work better for the highest-need, most-complex patients. This study's findings highlight the importance of tailoring interventions to address their needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalIssue brief (Commonwealth Fund)
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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