Older adults spend 3 weeks per year at health appointments

Older adults are spending an average of three weeks every year on healthcare appointments, a Jan. 23 study found.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data in 2019. The sample included 6,619 people 65 and older.

The study found of the average 21 "healthcare contact days," 17 involved ambulatory services, testing and imaging, procedures, treatment and therapy. The remaining four days were spent in the emergency room, hospital, a skilled nursing facility or hospice.

The study also found that about 11% of people 65 and older spend 50 or more days each year obtaining routine healthcare away from home.

In addition, approximately half of the participants' lab tests and imaging were not done on the same day as the physician's office visit.

"These results show factors beyond clinical need that may drive overuse and underuse of contact days and opportunities to optimize this person-centered measure to reduce patient burdens, for example, via care coordination," the study authors wrote.

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