I?d like to revisit a topic we haven?t mentioned in awhile?the shift in purchasing power away from physicians. In an effort to contain costs, a number of facilities and health networks are doing studies to identify the most cost-effective devices to use, which is resulting in this trend away from physicians being able to choose the devices they prefer?and device manufacturers are already feeling the impact.
One of the most notable names in this space is SharedClarity, which is backed by United Health, a major US health insurance carrier. Launched in April 2013, SharedClarity has been tasked with identifying the most cost effective products. Once they are able to reach a consensus, they recommend specific products to group members for purchase. Last year, SharedClarity made a big stride towards this effort when it determined that Abbott's and Medtronic's drug-eluting and bare metal stents were more cost-effective than Boston Scientific?s, which resulted in contracts being awarded to Abbott and Medtronic at its member hospitals.
So why the recent emphasis on the most cost-effective devices? Well really, it comes down to the fact that so-called ?physician-preference? items just plain cost a lot of money. One case study showed that one physician had nearly twice the average implant cost per case because they were using a customizable implant from a niche manufacturer, even in cases where the patient would have been eligible for a standard device. Especially interesting to me as well was the fact that some physicians were also opening implants that were never being used, which was resulting in waste and further unnecessary costs. Essentially, hospitals are trying to cut down on this kind of spending and to make sure that their limited dollars are allocated to the right places.
Manufacturers should be prepared for more data that highlights the cost effectiveness of a particular brand over another by groups such as SharedClarity. SharedClarity has also specifically identified orthopedic implants, peripheral stents, and cardiac valves as its targets. And this in turn indicates the importance of cost-effectiveness trials run by manufacturers themselves so that they know what they?re getting into. The focus on cost-effective device purchasing is only going to grow in the coming years?be prepared.