I’ve been traveling in Europe, including giving a talk at the Salzburg Global Seminar on involving and informing patients in healthcare decisions. In that presentation, I talked about promotion of a newer form of cancer radiation therapy called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
So I want to point out that while I’ve been away the Wall Street Journal published an important piece on this very topic under the headline “A Device to Kill Cancer, Lift Revenue.” An excerpt:
Roughly one in three Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with prostate cancer today gets a sophisticated form of radiation therapy called IMRT. Eight years ago, virtually no patients received the treatment.
The story behind the sharp rise in the use of IMRT—which stands for intensity-modulated radiation therapy—is about more than just the rapid adoption of a new medical technology. It’s also about financial incentives.
Taking advantage of an exemption in a federal law governing patient referrals, groups of urologists across the country have teamed up with radiation oncologists to capture the lucrative reimbursements IMRT commands from Medicare.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
There was a series of ads on the radio awhile back that went something like this:
When Mrs. Willis had a stroke, her husband never slept alone. Her daughter never had to go dress shopping for the prom by herself. And her son didn’t have to sit out the Mother-Son dance at his wedding. Why? Because she came to Hospital A…and she didn’t die!
There’s another ad for one of the big downtown hospital’s cancer center (sorry, “advanced cancer center”):
Every cancer, every stage. Your life depends on it!
Let’s see: No one ever dies at Hospital A. And the big downtown cancer center can cure any cancer. That’s certainly what those ads would have you believe. Even the little local suburban hospitals have taken to advertising: Billboards around the neighborhoods, kiosks at the outlet malls, mainly pushing the lucrative stuff like cardiac care and bariatric surgery.
Every time I see this stuff, I can’t help but wonder how much it all must cost. And how much medical care could have been provided to the uninsured instead of enriching the ad execs and billboard owners who are already rolling in dough. Clearly there is still plenty of money to be made in the hospital business, because these people aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t spend this kind of money on marketing unless there was plenty more to be made from it. I believe it’s a little business concept known as “return on investment.” Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*