News of the World wasn’t read by 15 percent of the British public because it told people what they should know. It got there by giving them what they wanted: stories about the peccadilloes of the rich and famous, accounts of the gross incompetence of government and of course, pictures of naked ladies.
Setting aside the fact that News of the World is no more, its publishers and editors knew how to sell the “news.” As free online news replaces print, every click, every page view, every second of viewing per page is tracked in the fierce competition for ad dollars, and so the selling of news increasingly influences its reporting. Titles, format and content are tweaked by editors to “optimize the metrics.” Reporters succeed and fail based on their ability to write articles that attract eyeballs, not Pulitzer prizes.
In the health domain, the effects of these demands were described in a series of conversations the Center for Advancing Health hosted with health care journalists over the past month.* The themes that emerged were that journalists are often encouraged to: Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*
Take medical uncertainty. Add financial incentive to treat. Voila! Increased utilization. Now take away financial incentive to treat. Guess what you get?
MedPageToday explains, in the case of hormone therapy for prostate cancer:
Medicare accomplished what clinical guidelines and evidence-based medicine couldn’t: it reduced unnecessary use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in prostate cancer.
Inappropriate use decreased by almost 30% from 2003 to 2005, following enactment of the Medicare Modernization Act, which lowered physician reimbursement for ADT. Appropriate use of ADT did not change during the same time period, according to an article in the Nov. 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Our findings suggest that reductions in reimbursement may influence the delivery of care in a potentially beneficial way, with even the modest [reimbursement] changes in 2004 associated with a substantial decrease in the use of inappropriate therapy,” Vahakn B. Shahinian, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and co-authors wrote in conclusion.
“The corollary is that reimbursement policies should be carefully considered to avoid providing incentives for care for which no clear benefit has been established. The extreme profitability of the use of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists during the 1990s probably contributed to the rapid growth in the use of ADT for indications that were not evidence-based.”
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*