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Medical technology as a key driver of rising health expenditures: disentangling the relationship

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  • Corinna Sorenson
  • Michael Drummond
  • Beena Bhuiyan Kahn
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    Abstract

    Health care spending has risen steadily in most countries, becoming a concern for decision-makers worldwide. Commentators often point to new medical technology as the key driver for burgeoning expenditures. This paper critically appraises this conjecture, based on an analysis of the existing literature, with the aim of offering a more detailed and considered analysis of this relationship. Several databases were searched to identify relevant literature. Various categories of studies (eg, multivariate and cost-effectiveness analyses) were included to cover different perspectives, methodological approaches, and issues regarding the link between medical technology and costs. Selected articles were reviewed and relevant information was extracted into a standardized template and analyzed for key cross-cutting themes, ie, impact of technology on costs, factors influencing this relationship, and methodological challenges in measuring such linkages. A total of 86 studies were reviewed. The analysis suggests that the relationship between medical technology and spending is complex and often conflicting. Findings were frequently contingent on varying factors, such as the availability of other interventions, patient population, and the methodological approach employed. Moreover, the impact of technology on costs differed across technologies, in that some (eg, cancer drugs, invasive medical devices) had significant financial implications, while others were cost-neutral or cost-saving. In light of these issues, we argue that decision-makers and other commentators should extend their focus beyond costs solely to include consideration of whether medical technology results in better value in health care and broader socioeconomic benefits.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/48043/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 48043.

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    Date of creation: 30 May 2013
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    Publication status: Published in Clinicoeconomics and Outcomes Research, 30, May, 2013, 2013(5), pp. 223-234. ISSN: 1178-6981
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:48043

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    Related research

    Keywords: medical technology; health expenditure; health policy; costs;

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    1. Di Matteo, Livio, 2005. "The macro determinants of health expenditure in the United States and Canada: assessing the impact of income, age distribution and time," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 23-42, January.
    2. Barros, Pedro Luis Pita & Martinez-Giralt, Xavier, 2009. "Technological adoption in health care," CEPR Discussion Papers 7558, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Mas, Núria & Seinfeld, Janice, 2008. "Is managed care restraining the adoption of technology by hospitals?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 1026-1045, July.
    4. Kamil Dybczak & Bartosz Przywara, 2010. "The role of technology in health care expenditure in the EU," European Economy - Economic Papers 400, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    5. Blank, Jos L. T. & Vogelaar, Iris, 2004. "Specifying technical change: a research on the nature of technical change in Dutch hospital industry," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 448-463, July.
    6. Weisbrod, Burton A, 1991. "The Health Care Quadrilemma: An Essay on Technological Change, Insurance, Quality of Care, and Cost Containment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 523-52, June.
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