Efficiency in health care and new technologies

June 29, 2008

Today's New York Times has an outstanding and quite detailed front page story on the use of computed tomography (CT) scanners. The article highlights several points, including how little we often know about whether a new technology works better than an existing one, how the use of new technologies (along with existing ones) can be substantially affected by the financial incentives facing doctors and other medical providers, and as a result how new technologies often spread to many settings in which their use is of questionable value.

If the nation is going to improve the efficiency of our health system, we will need to grapple with the types of issues raised by this important article.