InHealth to further understand socioeconomic impact of medical devices and diagnostics

As the Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) marks its five-year milestone, the research and educational nonprofit is taking stock of its contributions to objective evidence about the roles that medical technologies play in the economy, in the healthcare system, and in patients' lives.

InHealth's mission to further understand the socioeconomic impact of medical devices and diagnostics addresses the mounting demand for objective data to inform the current debate about how to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

Since its creation in 2004, InHealth has granted more than $10 million in research funding to investigators at 10 leading U.S. universities, resulting in 16 studies published in peer-reviewed journals. The research has examined industry processes as well as specific technology advances for such acute and chronic health conditions as cardiac disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and obstructive sleep apnea.

"We've placed an objective lens on diseases that have the greatest impact on the nation's mounting medical costs, generating findings that reveal complex relationships among innovation and healthcare delivery, the economy, and patients lives," says Martyn Howgill, InHealth's first executive director. "By changing how healthcare is provided to patients, technology has had enormous influence on patients' lives and on the productivity of the workforce."

"Healthcare reform and its implementation will require even more data than ever before," says Howgill. Meeting this need offers an opportunity to foster better understanding of the relationships among medical technologies, healthcare systems, and the economy, he adds.

InHealth has awarded research grants to Duke University, Harvard/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, Medical College of Georgia, Northwestern University, Stanford University, Tufts University, University of Houston, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California. Notable findings emerging from InHealth-funded research include:

• Among elderly patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure, there is a 38% average improvement in mortality rate for those who receive implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) that monitor the heart and deliver a lifesaving shock when needed. (University of Pennsylvania)

• Among elderly patients with osteoarthritis, those who receive total hip or knee replacements show significant improvements in physical functioning and increased ability to care for themselves. The procedures offer benefits to patients at any age, and cost less than long-term healthcare for the disabled. (Duke University)

• Patients with continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps manage their diabetes better, with greater adherence to regimens and less daily pain, than those using conventional fingerstick monitors and daily injections. But research shows the newer methods aren't widely used because physicians may be reluctant to prescribe them, and patients using them may not be deriving their full benefits. (Duke University)

• Cardiac patients treated with drug-eluting stents rather than bare-metal stents enjoy a 2% lower rate of mortality and require fewer repeat procedures. While initial costs for using drug-eluting stents are higher, they break even with the costs for bare-metal stents after one year. (University of Pennsylvania)

InHealth was created as an independent research organization by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed). InHealth's research priorities are guided by an independent research council composed of academics, economists, policy experts, clinicians, and industry representatives who ensure adherence to scientific principles and monitor the integrity of institute-sponsored investigations.

"By advancing a rigorous research program, InHealth has established its role as a credible source for a wide range of impactful health-sector data," says John W. Brown, chairman of Stryker Corp. and chair of InHealth's board of directors. "As the nation considers healthcare reform, InHealth's work is more important than ever for policy makers, regulators, and providers—and most especially for patients."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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