Brigham and Women's study: Innovation depends on more than hospital profits — patients have to be on board, too

While innovation initiatives are often seen as a financial imperative for hospitals and health systems, the value proposition for patients can play an even greater role in determining adoption, a recent study from Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital finds.

In an attempt to understand how the patient perspective informs healthcare organizations' decisions to deploy new technologies, the study assessed patients' out-of-pocket costs for robotic cancer surgery, since robotic surgery has surged in popularity in recent years despite presenting only "ambiguous" evidence of improved outcomes, study author Junaid Nabi, MD, explained in an op-ed for Scientific American.

According to the researchers' analysis, despite relying on more advanced and costly technology, robotic surgery is associated with lower out-of-pocket costs than open surgery for prostate, uterus, colon and kidney cancers.

They went on to conclude that the reduced expenses were the result of "three major economic forces," Dr. Nabi wrote: increased patient demand due to direct-to-consumer advertising; the centralization of surgical procedures; and changes in surgical residency training programs.

"These findings provide useful insights for policy makers on how the healthcare system promotes adoption and dissemination of innovative medical technologies and the importance of understanding the patient's perspective," he concluded.

Dr. Nabi added, "For far too long, policy makers have focused on simplistic reasoning — profitability, greed — to describe the rapid adoption of novel medical technologies in clinical practice. Our findings provide the foundation for future research on these issues and reveal why designing policy solutions that lead to steady adoption will require a systems-level thinking.

More articles on innovation:
House bill pushes for more accountability in CMS innovation arm
Verily launches joint venture for ophthalmology innovation
HBR: 5 keys to success when crowdsourcing innovation

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