Economic theory actually works in health care

May 10, 2012

A study of 7,424 privately insured colon cancer patients found that managed care presence in the market and hospital competition increased the likelihood laparoscopic surgery to treat colon cancer lowered costs, a national team of researchers led by a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services reported in the journal Cancer, May 8, 2012.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of in the U.S., and surgical resection is the standard of care. In 2004, there were approximately 134,000 colectomies performed in the U.S.

The researchers examined whether market forces such as managed care or hospital competition affected the likelihood of an open resection, involving a long incision and lengthy hospitalization and recovery, versus laparoscopic surgery with minimal incisions and shorter hospital stays and recoveries.

"This is a timely analysis in the era of ," said Avi Dor, PhD, lead author and professor of in the Department of Policy at GWU's school of public health. "It demonstrates that competition among providers can be harnessed to benefit patients and consumers."

A 10% increase of health maintenance organization (HMO) penetration in a market was associated with a 10.3% increase in the utilization of laparoscopy, the researchers found. Also, using a standard measure of hospital competition, they found that less competition was associated with a lower likelihood of laparoscopy.

The team of researchers utilized a database of claims for privately insured individuals, allowing them to analyze actual payments received by payments. In fact, they found the average cost for laparoscopy was $18,133 compared to an average cost of $21,257 for .

In reviewing the data for the 7,424 patients treated between 2002 and 2007, the researchers adjusted for patient severity and risk. Of the 7,424 patients, 1,035 (or 13.96%) underwent laparoscopic surgery.

Other findings include:

  • By 2007, patients were 12.5 times more likely to undergo laparoscopy compared to 2002.
  • The price of colectomy procedures was 17.5% lower in 2007 than in 2002.
"Our results carry important implications for health policy and hospital financing beyond the particular procedure studied," the researchers wrote. "...(I)n certain cases, adoption of novel procedures may not necessarily drive prices higher, but rather, it may result in price discounts and real savings."

Explore further: Study links obesity to increased risk of developing postoperative infection following colon surgery

More information: To view the study, visit: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … /cncr.27573/abstract

Related Stories

Study links obesity to increased risk of developing postoperative infection following colon surgery

May 16, 2011
Obese patients appear to have a significantly increased risk of developing a surgical site infection after colectomy (procedure involving either partial or full removal of the colon), and the presence of infection increases ...

Study examines risk factors for small-bowel obstruction following surgery

April 16, 2012
Surgical technique is a factor related to small-bowel obstruction (SBO) and compared with laparoscopic surgery, open surgery appears to be associated with an increased risk of SBO, according to a study published in the April ...

In colorectal surgery, risk for blood clots appears higher with open method versus laparoscopy

June 20, 2011
The risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) may be nearly twice as high for patients undergoing open surgery for colorectal problems, versus those undergoing laparoscopic colorectal (LC) resections, according to a ...

The Medical Minute: Advances in laparoscopic colorectal surgery

March 26, 2012
Until relatively recently, most colon and rectal surgeries, whether elective or unplanned, required a large abdominal incision to achieve. This would typically result in a moderate degree of postoperative discomfort, and ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.