Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Fam Med. 2005 Nov-Dec;3(6):545-52.

The break-even point: when medical advances are less important than improving the fidelity with which they are delivered.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Fairfax, USA.

Abstract

Society invests billions of dollars in the development of new drugs and technologies but comparatively little in the fidelity of health care, that is, improving systems to ensure the delivery of care to all patients in need. Using mathematical arguments and a nomogram, we demonstrate that technological advances must yield dramatic, often unrealistic increases in efficacy to do more good than could be accomplished by improving fidelity. In 2 examples (the development of anti-platelet agents and statins), we show that enhanced efficacy failed to achieve the health gains that would have occurred by delivering older agents to all eligible patients. Society's huge investment in technological innovations that only modestly improve efficacy, by consuming resources needed for improved delivery of care, may cost more lives than it saves. The misalignment of priorities is driven partly by the commercial interests of industry and by the public's appetite for technological breakthroughs, but health outcomes ultimately suffer. Health, economic, and moral arguments make the case for spending less on technological advances and more on improving systems for delivering care.

PMID:
16338919
PMCID:
PMC1466946
DOI:
10.1370/afm.406
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center