Chronic disease. New diseases. Mental health. Drugs.
One that is not often studied closely enough is medical imaging. Are those CT scans really necessary?
His study, published in Health Affairs, looked specifically at how CT scans did in diagnosing abdominal aneuryisms among Medicare patients at Stanford, and found them effective.
Previously these would be diagnosed with a nasty operation called a catheter angiography, in which a tube with a camera would run up the patient's blood vessels.
It found that for every 100 CT scans, 15 of these expensive operations were replaced. That's good. So is the fact that 68 out of each 100 CT scan patients were previously given no diagnostic test at all.
Still, the report suggested, this methodology needs to be applied across a range of conditions, and a range of patients, to calculate the real cost-benefit of the technology.
That's because we already know the cost is very real.
When MRI or CT scanners are put into service, they get used. Using scanners is cheaper than operating on people, but we need to find out which scans are necessary if we're to get any handle on medical inflation.
And there is the breakthrough. There's a lot of work to be done developing cost-benefit analyses of medical imaging. Dr. Baker has uncovered a huge new business opportunity, just in time for Christmas.