Going Below the Surface E-newsletter: June 2018
June 26, 2018
For us, Going Below the Surface means rolling up our sleeves, asking tough, uncomfortable questions, and working with a variety of stakeholders to address how well we are spending our health care dollars in the US. Each month, we’ll dig deeper on what’s being discussed and what it means. We hope you enjoy this first issue and encourage you to share, sign up and follow us between issues using #GoingBelowTheSurface.
Questions or comments to help us improve the newsletter? Drop us a line. And please, continue the conversation with colleagues, friends and family so that together we can address the challenge of how best to use our health care resources.
JAMA Articles on Spending Skim the Surface
Several JAMA articles published during the last few weeks focused on the differences in health spending in the US versus our European counterparts, asserting that we spend more in the US but are not achieving better health outcomes.
But the numbers don’t tell us the full story, according to a Health Affairs Blog article led by Leslie Greenwald of RTI International. She points out that, while the JAMA articles focus on drug prices as a driving factor for increased health spending, the data the articles use from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development do not include pricing information, utilization intensity, and variation in price and service use across the US.
Why it matters: As Greenwald writes, “[w]e need to be cautious of study limitations when making policy proposals,” and understand that there are a variety of factors across health care that are driving spending. Trying to pin spending challenges on just one aspect of health care ignores the complexity and nuances of our health care system. That’s why we need to go below the surface and understand how all of these factors are affecting our spending. Read Greenwald’s article.
We Under-investing in Medical Technology?
Advances in medical technology including devices, diagnostics, surgical procedures and medications – have increased life expectancy and quality of life for many patients post-diagnosis. A survey of US physicians published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy provides insight on their perceptions regarding which medical innovations had the biggest impact on US patients diagnosed with debilitating health conditions. According to the survey by RTI Health Solutions and the National Pharmaceutical Council, the majority (56 percent) of improvements in health outcomes since 1990 were driven by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical innovations.
Why it matters: These findings suggest that value assessments should be applied broadly to all medical technologies to ensure the best return on investment in health care services. By taking a critical eye to not just spending across different health care sectors, but also the benefits achieved, we can better direct our health care resources. Maybe we are under-investing in some of the most valuable facets of health technology? View the findings.
We came across many peer-reviewed articles about health spending, so we dug through them all and chose to share a few key studies on a common theme that caught our attention: low-value care and wasteful spending in our health care system and how we can tackle those challenges.
Health care spending conversations are taking place across the country at events, online and around the water coolers. We’ve flagged a few conversations for your attention and hope that you’ll also engage with the discussion online via #GoingBelowTheSurface.
About Going Below the Surface
The Going Below the Surface initiative was launched by the National Pharmaceutical Council in 2018 to broaden and improve the conversation around how health care resources are used in the United States. The initiative is aimed at better understanding the roots of the nation’s health spending and investments by promoting a discussion that is firmly based in health policy and systems research. Our goal is to provide clarity on how best to optimize health care spending so that patients receive the right care while simultaneously providing the right incentives to sustain next-generation innovation to improve patient well-being and health system efficiencies. To view the Going Below the Surface partners, visit www.goingbelowthesurface.org.
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