Comparative Effectiveness in Healthcare Session at AAAS Meeting

I attended the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science today to hear a session titled “Health Economic Evaluations of Medical Technologies: Is the Cost Worth the Cure?”  The topic of this session was really about comparative effectiveness of medical interventions – particularly pharmaceuticals. The panel was a substantial group of physicians and health services researchers/regulators:

  • Milton C. Weinstein, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Michael F. Drummond, University of York, United Kingdom & NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence)
  • Jeffrey Kelman, Chief Medical Officer at CMS
  • Marc Berger, Eli Lilly
  • Tracy A. Lieu, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

The most impressive thing about this 3 hour session was that at a meeting with thousands of attendees, there were 12-15 people in this session.  Clearly the organizers had expected more, since the room had space for a couple of hundred.

Despite the small audience, the panel gave interesting – if not too in-depth –  presentations which at times delved into jargon about programs such as Medicare Part D, and unfortunately didn’t engage in speculation about the future of comparative effectiveness for decision making about the allocation of resources for healthcare services or research.

What was clear, is that (as I mentioned in an earlier post), comparative effectiveness is something here to stay.  The question remains to see how it will be used in the future by payers (particularly in the US), and how this will effect the quality of care, and the direction and intensity of research activities.

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