How is medicine doing at the end of the twentieth century? While there has been no end of studies of our health care system and proposals for changing it, there have been few credible studies of the risks and benefits of widely used medical treatments. We simply do not always know whether one treatment is better than another or whether a particular drug is worth the price.
Medical technology assessment is the discipline that studies what does and does not work in medicine. Howard Frazier and Frederick Mosteller are leading figures in this field. In Medicine Worth Paying For they attempt something completely new: to distill the methods and knowledge base of their highly specialized discipline into a text that is accessible—and therefore of great value—to a nontechnical audience.
This book calls attention to the importance of technology assessment in medicine—the rigorous evaluation of the effects of medical treatments—with particular reference to medical innovations. Also, making use of a series of carefully selected cases, the authors identify important policy implications that can be drawn from the study of successful medical innovations. These case studies of medical successes are a rich source of examples of the effects, good and bad, of the application of technology to health care and of attempts to influence the diffusion of technologies in health care.
Medicine Worth Paying For should be of interest to a variety of readers, particularly those concerned with health policy, investigators studying health services, those in the health professions, nonprofessionals who wish to maintain and improve the performance of the health care system, and others who simply want a system that provides benefits greater than risks at an acceptable financial cost.
In Medicine Worth Paying For, the editors…begin by asking ‘How is medicine doing?’ Many of the 14 case studies included suggest a qualified positive assessment… This book is far more than a round of applause for medical advances that have been proven to yield health benefits. The editors criticize the methods by which medical interventions are studied, or, not studied… The editors…[have] distinguished backgrounds in technology assessment…[and] the text itself is highly readable, and sufficiently accessible so that lay readers will find it readily comprehensible.
[T]his book would be valuable for many audiences, especially for policymakers, because it identifies most of the serious deficiencies in the American health care delivery system and suggests remedial steps that are endorsed by virtually all serious scholars of the problems this nation faces on the scientific side of health care. Health professionals and medical and nursing students, as well as lay readers, should find this book very informative in helping them to understand the issues in present-day health care delivery in the United States.
This book is grounded in solid reviews of clinical studies, shows awareness of the economic consequences of alternative interventions, and is sensitive to the social and psychological factors that affect the well being of patients. It deserves a wide audience among physicians, other health professionals, and all those responsible for public and private health policy decisions.
This book is must reading for anyone interested in the role of new technologies in medicine. Two eminent scholars, Professors Frazier and Mosteller, and their colleagues discuss examples of specific new technologies—how they are evaluated, how they are accepted in the market place, and how their impact on the cost and the quality of medical care is evaluated. As the United States and most Western nations struggle with the challenges of containing the rise in the costs of care, while preserving and enhancing the quality of care, the lessons taught in this book will be instructive and sometimes sobering.
- 336 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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