Using Information to Measure Benefits

One of the most common criticisms of drug prize plans like HR417 is that they would require a tremendous amount of information to be able to allocate prizes correctly. However, as an article in the NYTimes (“Smart Care via a Mouse, but What Will It Cost?”) discusses today, exactly such information is becoming available.

The technology backbone for more efficient health care markets is being called the “national health information network.” Such a network — with patient records stripped of their personal identifiers — is intended to someday allow doctors, nurses, researchers and ordinary people to track the outcome of various therapies, drugs and devices.

The idea is that they could tap into a public Web site to sift through health databases that are based on millions of records, updated regularly. Clever software would help them to understand what works and what doesn’t — and to seek answers about side effects, recovery times and vitamin regimens. A result, health experts say, is that fewer decisions about how to treat patients would be based on studies by drug companies and medical device makers, as they often are now.

The information system described would be ideal for measuring the benefits of specific drugs.

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