Xconomy, March 19, 2013
When we ignore the higher cost of the new technology, or don't consider cost in a broad contextual view of the standard of care, we allow perverse market incentives to take root. We end up as a society directing people to the new and expensive treatment option, regardless of the evidence. This kind of attitude has helped create a dysfunctional market with runaway health spending, as Time magazine recently described in a devastating cover story. The piece resonated for me, because as a journalist, I see plenty of new medical technologies come along that don't have solid evidence that they provide benefits that outweigh their added cost. The latest advance I've seen follow this familiar pattern is happening in my community of Seattle. I toured the region's new proton therapy center run by a private company called ProCure and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance?a collaboration of three renowned institutions?the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children's Hospital.