Saturday, December 18, 2010

Variation in Treatment Patterns

Some interesting new research suggests that variation in treatment patterns may not be as closely related to how we pay for care as we once thought. Instead, it may be more related to how doctors are trained and local variations in provider culture.

The British National Health Service, in which most doctors are salaried, recently released the Atlas of Variation in Healthcare, a UK version of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care.
Variations in the way doctors treat patients are "independent of the way health care's organized and financed," Dr. Jack Wennberg, the godfather of Dartmouth's variation research, said in an interview here Thursday, noting that his work uncovered similar patterns in Britain and Norway in the 1970s. What matters when it comes to medical tests and surgeries, he says, is whether there's clear evidence that treatments work.
(h/t: Kaiser Health News via the Incidental Economist)