Thursday, February 15, 2007

Questioning High Dollar Medical Robots

An article in the Minnesota Medicine Online raises the issue of when medical robots and expensive medical scanners can become too much of a good thing.

According to the article, "The complaint coming from a number of quarters is that the proliferation of high-priced technology is driving up health care costs to crippling levels with insufficient evidence of corresponding benefits to patients—and no regard at all for cost-effectiveness."

The problem is described by Former U.S. Senator David Durenberger, chair of the National Institute of Health Policy (NIHP) at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, as the "medical arms race syndrome."

The problem stems from the fact that there is really no free market in medical technology. Patients follow the advice of their doctors and their insurance pays for their medical services. That makes the doctors the actual deciding customer.
Doctors may have the incentive to recommend high tech treatments because they can have higher margins and be more attractive to patients who want the latest and greatest.

Durenburger singled out Intuitive Surgical's $1 million minimum Da Vinci robot and Accuray's $3.5 mllion CyberKnife system as examples of technology that may be over capacity for Minnesota.

They cannot say for sure that the robots are unnecessarily increasing medical costs because they have no measurements of capacity and need. But the system appears to be encouraging unchecked growth.

Minnesota Medical Association - Publications



Anonymous [mt] said...

it sounds medical business related on the robot projects..
→ but they are welcome in health environment..

5:17 AM, March 05, 2007  

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