Promising Uses of Comparative Effectiveness in Chronic Care

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Friday, 30 May 2014 16:57

Improving care to patients with chronic illness will positively impact physician practices as healthcare reform continues. One standard measure of the health care system has been that 5 percent of patients use 50 percent of services. The goal is to lower this ration through multiple efforts.

There are several promising uses of technology in implementing the chronic care model; one involves the use of comparative effectiveness research. The Dartmouth Institute’s Comparative Effective Research (CER) Program is examining several more specific aspects including a better understanding of how technology can improve clinical care and outcomes as well as how health information technology can be used to provide individually-tailored decision support.

One example is the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research in Cancer Imaging at multiple sites and organizations.  Through the CER-led research, investigators are studying how advanced imaging is changing cancer treatment. Current projects are looking at lung cancer screenings with spiral CTs, breast cancer screening with digital mammography and the role of positive emission topography (PET scans) in cancer treatments. The hope is to find the best way to carefully use advanced imaging in both preventive screenings and treatment for those with cancer. While there are innovative health care technologies available, they can also be costly.  Comparative effectiveness is an important step in understanding the full picture of every available therapeutic option.

While there is some controversy in factoring in cost, comparative effectiveness is one way health care professionals can gain a better understanding of how to best use technology in both clinical and economic terms.  This analysis can be critical to both patients and physicians as they make informed decisions about treatment options.