TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Cost-effectiveness is
becoming an increasingly important aspect of medical treatment, and
two researchers have found that individualizing therapies to
smaller groups of patients may be one way to help control
In the new report, the team from Stanford University School of
Medicine suggested that when comparing the price of a treatment
with its intended outcome (also known as the incremental
cost-effectiveness ratio), health economists should assess smaller
subgroups of people for a more precise analysis that is better
tailored to individuals.
"Physicians need to think about what a particular intervention will offer for each patient, and how much it will cost," co-author Dr. John Ioannidis, chief of the Stanford Prevention Research Center and Stanford's C.F. Rehnborg Professor in Disease Prevention, said in a university news release. "What is at stake, and how might this patient's needs and expectations vary from the norm?"
An example of one way to individualize the cost-benefit analysis
of medical treatments would be to consider smaller categories of
people who would respond differently to certain treatments, such as
people who are less willing to take on the risk of negative side
effects associated with certain medications, the study authors
"Most physicians practice medicine intuitively without giving much thought to the evidence and the economic implications of their decisions," said Ioannidis. "The information flow and decision-making process is often chaotic and not entirely rational. This is scary."
The researchers admitted individualized cost-effectiveness
analysis isn't possible for population-wide treatments or when the
intervention could also affect the health of many other people,
such as vaccination programs.
Ioannidis and co-author Dr. Alan Garber, health economist and
director of the Center for Health Policy at Stanford, published
their report online July 12 in
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
health care costs and financial assistance.