Government should play smaller role in comparative effectiveness research

Every day, physicians, patients and insurers must decide what is the best treatment for a particular ailment. To help healthcare providers and payers make informed decisions about how to treat patients effectively--and cost-effectively--health care reform has turned to comparative effectiveness research (CER), which compares  various medical treatments to determine which methods lead to the best outcomes.

But having the government as the sole authority on CER may lead to limited treatment options, according to a new paper by Wharton healthcare management professor Scott Harrington. In order to develop a myriad of innovative remedies, the government should encourage private sector researchers to get in on the action.

The public sector could spark an increase in private sector investment in CER through research and development-related tax credits. Also, providing open availability of research data on medical treatments and health outcomes would help generate new private sector CER.  

"Initiatives to make medical claims and related data more widely accessible to researchers, without pre-approval by a government agency of the research topic, would likely cause many additional researchers to allocate effort to CER and related research, without requiring direct government funding of their time and research support," wrote Harrington.

Expanding CER research beyond the existing medical research community can potentially decelerate healthcare spending and improve the overall quality of care. "If we have additional information about what works and what it costs, that information will be reflected in care decisions and adopted over time," he wrote.

For more:
- read this [email protected] article
- here's the paper "Incentivizing Comparative Effectiveness Research" (.pdf)