Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thanks to the economic stimulus bill, the government has a $1.1 billion down payment on an effort to find out which medical tests or treatments are actually the best.
At issue is what's called "comparative effectiveness." It raises questions about standard procedures and prescriptions.
Should a patient have open-heart bypass surgery or far less invasive stents to open severely clogged heart arteries? Of all the competing pills, which is best to start with in treating Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure?
Dr. Harold Sox will lead a panel of the Institute of Medicine to help guide what comparisons the government makes. Sox says if people have better information they'll make better choices.
And Dr. Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is getting some funding to determine what works best, says here could be some financial benefits as well.