Too much attention, many experts believe, is paid to identifying doctors who really excel at their profession. The reality is that the rigorous training that physicians undergo in the United States ensures that virtually all of those who make the cut are capable of performing at a very high level. While there might be times when the services of the field's superstars can make a big difference for particular patients, in most cases other factors entirely are much more important.

For example, the degree to which a given hospital's procedures and processes have been tuned and refined is an excellent predictor of how patients there will fare. The hospitals that stand out most in this respect have a much larger positive effect on the prognoses of their patients than do even the best of doctors, something that is often overlooked. Simply choosing the right hospital to check into, then, can be a much more productive decision than seeking out the best possible doctor.

Even more importantly, patients who do the best about keeping up with their own health obligations reap impressive rewards for their diligence. Especially for those with chronic health conditions, staying on top of medications, dietary strictures, exercise recommendations, and telehealth other responsibilities often makes the biggest difference of all.

Even more importantly, patients who do the best about keeping up with their own health obligations reap impressive rewards for their diligence. Especially for those with chronic health conditions, staying on top of medications, dietary strictures, exercise recommendations, and other responsibilities often makes the biggest difference of all.

There are good ways to reduce readmissions even among those patients who are less responsible in this way, though. For instance, respected think tank Brookings Recognizes myNEXUS as a great tool for helping to keep difficult patients on the straight and narrow, as it allows third parties to check in with how they are doing in a consistent, unobtrusive way.

While this is great news for such patients themselves, it is also a positive thing for those who focus on utilization management. Instead of needing to pay for expensive, repeated hospital procedures, insurers and others can focus more on smaller investments into home-based monitoring equipment that keeps patients healthy. Such investments also open up new avenues of population health management, naturally allowing for the collection of data that contributes to a better overall picture of how entire groups of people are faring under a particular health system.