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Technological Development and Medical Productivity: The Diffusion of Angioplasty in New York State

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  • Cutler, David
  • Huckman, Robert

Abstract

A puzzling feature of many medical innovations is that they simultaneously appear to reduce unit costs and increase total costs. We consider this phenomenon by examining the diffusion of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)—a treatment for coronary artery disease—over the past two decades. We find that growth in the use of PTCA led to higher total costs despite its lower unit cost. Over the two decades following PTCA’s introduction, however, we find that the magnitude of this increase was reduced by between 10 and 20% due to the substitution of PTCA for CABG. In addition, the increased use of PTCA appears to be a productivity improvement. PTCAs that substitute for CABG cost less and have the same or better outcomes, while PTCAs that replace medical management appear to improve health by enough to justify the cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Cutler, David & Huckman, Robert, 2003. "Technological Development and Medical Productivity: The Diffusion of Angioplasty in New York State," Scholarly Articles 2664291, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2664291
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    5. Wise, David A. (ed.), 1998. "Inquiries in the Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226903033.
    6. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
    7. 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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