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

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  • Sorenson, Corinna
  • Drummond, Michael
  • Bhuiyan Kahn, Beena

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sorenson, Corinna & Drummond, Michael & Bhuiyan Kahn, Beena, 2013. "Medical technology as a key driver of rising health expenditures: disentangling the relationship," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48043, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:48043
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/48043/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Kamil Dybczak & Bartosz Przywara, 2010. "The role of technology in health care expenditure in the EU," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 400, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    4. 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.
    5. Pedro Pita Barros & Xavier Martinez-Giralt, 2009. "Technological adoption in health care," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 790.09, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    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 523-552, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:hepoli:v:121:y:2017:i:9:p:978-985 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Maurizio Bussolo & Johannes Koettl & Emily Sinnott, 2015. "Golden Aging," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 22018.
    3. Bae, Eun-Young & Hong, Ji-Min & Kwon, Hye-Young & Jang, Suhyun & Lee, Hye-Jae & Bae, SeungJin & Yang, Bong-Min, 2016. "Eight-year experience of using HTA in drug reimbursement: South Korea," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(6), pages 612-620.
    4. Giuditta Callea & Aleksandra Torbica & Rosanna Tarricone, 2014. "Impatto del sistema di finanziamento a DRG sull’innovazione tecnologica in sanità. Il caso italiano," MECOSAN. Menagement e economia sanitaria, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(89), pages 31-48.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    medical technology; health expenditure; health policy; costs;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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