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Orszag: Data will drive health care quality

  • Editor’s note: We have been working for years to get actionable data into the hands of providers and patients. However, many of the stakeholders including the providers have staunchly resisted efforts in this direction. Their main issue is that the data isn’t perfect and they don’t believe they should be accountable for patient outcomes because there are many stakeholders in most encounters.
  • By Mary Mosquera
  • Jun 09, 2009

Physicians cannot know if they are providing the most effective treatment for patients unless they have data that supports their clinical choices, said Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In detailing some of the Obama administration’s approaches to health care reform, Orszag said patient-centered research and information technology that will deliver research data to doctors are two long-term game changers the administration believes will help transform the health care system.

Providers sometimes do not have evidence on hand to help them determine the most effective treatment or tests. “We need much more information tied to medical systems so that doctors and hospitals know what works and whether additional procedures are warranted,” Orszag said today at a conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also weighed in, saying that such data would help health care consumers as well. “When Americans go shopping, they do research on what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “You can’t go shopping like that for health care.”

Baucus plans to re-introduce legislation later this month that calls for research into the comparative effectiveness of treatments as part of comprehensive health reform efforts.

Orszag said physicians are often hampered by lack of access to historical data on whether some treatments work better than others under similar conditions.

“Too much of the health care delivered in the United States is not backed by any evidence that it works better than an alternative,” he said. “In fact, the largest variation seems to occur, as evidence suggests, in precisely those places where we don’t know what works and what doesn’t.

“Where it’s clear what should happen, the variation is less extreme,” Orszag said. “Where there is a lot of ambiguity, there is more variation. And we have a payment system that rewards the more intensive approaches not backed by evidence that they work.”


June 19, 2009 - Posted by | Accountability, Health care delivery | , , ,

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