Publications » Research In Profile Series » Issue 15, February 2006:
Technological and medical advances in the United States promote a culture of expectation that there will always be a cure for any ill. But that expectation incurs a tremendous cost to society: A vast amount of money gets wasted by the use of untested—and perhaps ineffective— “new” technologies and medicines, as well as by the excessive and inappropriate use of others. This ultimately makes health insurance less affordable, and contributes to the growing numbers of Americans who are uninsured. It also shrinks the pool of money available to invest in researching the real-world effectiveness of these new technologies.
“That’s a bad trade-off. We have to stop spending money foolishly so that we can afford treatments that are significantly beneficial for the population,” says Richard A. Deyo, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine and of health services at the University of Washington, Seattle. His colleague, Donald L. Patrick, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., professor of health services and sociology at the University of Washington, agrees: “We have to address the social and cultural forces that lead to a techno-consumptive culture.”
With support from a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, Deyo and Patrick have co-authored a new book, Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises, that squarely addresses the tough issues surrounding new and evolving health care technologies.
According to Deyo and Patrick, there is no easy cure for the American obsession with medical miracles: After all, hope cuts to the root of the American dream. “There are numerous examples of older, lower-cost technology being as good as the new, but the hope that something new will be better and the hype surrounding it gets us to buy the latest and the greatest,” Patrick says.
A number of forces shape the role that hype plays. The news media, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pharmaceutical companies, physicians, and even consumers themselves all contribute. Deyo’s and Patrick’s book casts light on the various actors and interests involved and offers solutions for policymakers, industry, and consumers.Read More... (PDF)