16th Annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy, Quality-Adjusted Life Years, healthcare, medical care, health policy, public health
Are we getting the most health improvement possible for our money. In other words, are all the things that we do in medicine really worth it? That is where cost-effectiveness comes in. As a nation, we have been unwilling, at least publicly, to look explicitly at the value, in terms of improved health outcome, that we get for our health care dollars. With advances in medical technology putting unsustainable pressure on health care costs, our historical reluctance to measure value for health care may have to change. I start this brief by describing cost-effectiveness analysis as a method of determining the value, measured in Quality-Adjusted Life Years, of medical technologies as they are applied to treat, diagnose, or prevent various conditions. Based on this information, I then argue that some highly beneficial, low-cost procedures are significantly under-utilized, and that other medical technologies may be over-utilized based on the amount of health benefit they yield in relation to their cost. Next, I give examples from current research, my own and that of colleagues, illustrating how cost-effectiveness analysis can be used to guide the use of new diagnostic testing technologies (such as DNA or RNA typing of infectious agents or identification of genomic or proteomic markers in cancer patients).
Weinstein, Milton C., "Spending Health Care Dollars Wisely: Can Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Help?" (2005). Center for Policy Research. Paper 13.
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