Measuring health care: Need to know

DECIDING where to seek treatment might seem simple for a German diagnosed with prostate cancer. The five-year survival rate hardly varies from one clinic to the next: all bunch around the national average of 94%. Health-care providers in Germany, and elsewhere, have usually been judged only by broad outcomes such as mortality.But to patients, good health means more than life or death. Thanks to a study in 2011 by Germany’s biggest insurer, a sufferer now knows that the national average rate of severe erectile dysfunction a year after removal of a cancerous prostate gland is 76%—but at the best clinic, just 17%. For incontinence, the average is 43%; the best, 9%. But such information is the exception in Germany and elsewhere, not the rule.What matters to patients should also matter to policymakers. Side-effects such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence are not only unpleasant, but expensive to treat. And measuring outcomes is the first step to choosing the best treatments and providers at the lowest prices. But few places do this well, says Michael Porter of Harvard Business School.Doctors and administrators have long argued that tracking patients after…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/international/21595474-improve-health-care-governments-need-use-right-data-need-know?fsrc=rss|int

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