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Who is responsible for your health: You, your doctor or new technologies?



The aim of the paper is to disentangle the roles that patients, physicians and technology can have on patient health outcomes using a large and detailed dataset of Italian patients collected by the Italian College of General Practitioners (SIMG) over the period 2001–2006. As our data show the existence of heterogeneity in the time needed to reach an optimal level of health stock, we study this measure of health outcome rather than simply the level of health stock. Limiting our analysis to patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia, the empirical work is based on two different analyses. We first explore whether patients recovering faster exhibit lower hospitalization rates and then we study the determinants of the speed of recovery to a good health status. The results confirm that a 10% increase in the speed of recovery can reduce hospitalization rates by about 1.0%. Furthermore, we show that recovering to a good health status is a multifaceted phenomenon, with technology explaining at best 62% of the combined effect, while patient and physician behaviors share the residual effect. These results are then discussed in terms of policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Vincenzo Atella & Francesco D'Amico, 2010. "Who is responsible for your health: You, your doctor or new technologies?," CEIS Research Paper 167, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:167

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    1. Gowrisankaran Gautam & Town Robert & Barrette Eric, 2011. "Managed Care, Drug Benefits and Mortality: An Analysis of the Elderly," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-32, January.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2007. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 925-985, December.
    3. Charles I. Jones, 2005. "More life vs. more goods: explaining rising health expenditures," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue may27.
    4. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1996. "Do (More and Better) Drugs Keep People Out of Hospitals?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 384-388, May.
    5. Lichtenberg Frank R., 2008. "Pharmaceutical Innovation and U.S. Cancer Survival, 1992-2003: Evidence from Linked SEER-MEDSTAT Data," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-27, March.
    6. Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2009. "Have newer cardiovascular drugs reduced hospitalization? Evidence from longitudinal country-level data on 20 OECD countries, 1995-2003," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 519-534.
    7. Zhou Yang & Donna B. Gilleskie & Edward C. Norton, 2009. "Health Insurance, Medical Care, and Health Outcomes: A Model of Elderly Health Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    8. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2006. "The Value of Health and Longevity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 871-904, October.
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    11. Robert G. Valletta, 2007. "The costs and value of new medical technologies: symposium summary," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jul6.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincenzo Atella & Francesco D’Amico, 2015. "Who is responsible for your health: is it you, your doctor or the new technologies?," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(8), pages 835-846, November.

    More about this item


    Health outcomes; Technical progress; Physician behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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