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Health Policy. 2006 Dec;79(2-3):221-30. Epub 2006 Feb 13.

The diffusion of medical technology, local conditions, and technology re-invention: a comparative case study on coronary stenting.

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  • 1Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Medicine, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo 113-8655, Tokyo, Japan.


Innovation of medical technology is a major driving force behind the increase in medical expenditures in developed countries. Previous studies identified that the diffusion of medical technology varied across countries according to the characteristics of regulatory policy and payment systems. Based on Roger's diffusion of innovation theory, this study purported to see how local practice norms, the evolving nature of diffusing technology, and local clinical needs in addition to differences in politico-economic systems would affect the process of innovation diffusion. Taking a case of coronary stenting, an innovative therapeutic technology in early 1990s, we provided a case study of hospital-based data between two teaching high-tech hospitals in Japan and the US for discussion. Stenting began to be widely used in both countries when complementary new technology modified its clinical efficacy, but the diffusion process still differed between the two hospitals due to (1) distinctive payment systems for hospitals and physicians, (2) practice norms in favor of percutaneous intervention rather than bypass surgery that was shaped by payment incentives and cultural attitudes, and (3) local patient's clinical characteristics that the technology had to be tailored for. The case study described the diffusion of stent technology as a dynamic process between patients, physicians, hospitals, health care systems, and technology under global and local conditions.

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