Comparative Effectiveness Research May Not Lower Healthcare Spending
According to the RAND Corporation, it is uncertain whether comparative effectiveness research will lead to reductions in spending and waste or improvements in patient health.
A new RAND analysis concluded that while there are benefits to having better information for doctors and patients about what works best in treating different health problems, "there is no clear evidence that a large new undertaking in this area would result in overall savings to the U.S. health care system."
Comparative effectiveness is one of many policy options being considered in comprehensive health reform legislation and already has received some funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The analysis found that comparative effectiveness research could help reduce healthcare spending by producing clear guidelines that point to superior and potentially less costly choices for medical treatment.
"By reducing the use of less productive treatment options, the research could contribute to efforts to drive down medical spending," RAND said.
However, the analysis pointed out, "one challenge for any such effort is to present the findings in such a way that both health providers and patients are motivated to change their behavior."
The study concluded that, at least in the near term, any reduction in spending created from comparative effectiveness research would be offset by the upfront costs associated with generating, coordinating, and disseminating the research findings.