Cost or cure? It depends who you ask

Posted May 24, 2011

— Ask yourself this question: What aspect of healthcare delivers to you the most “value?”

As obvious as the answer would seem to be to patients that “outcomes,” or whether a treatment works, is most important, a new report from Quintiles finds that 30 percent say “cost” is more important.

Interestingly, more patients (33 percent) mentioned neither cost nor outcome and 31 percent said they weren’t sure about the answer.

The spread of answers to that question in Quintiles’ “New Health Report 2011” is also reflected in responses from the three other groups surveyed: Biopharma executives, managed care providers and physicians.

Read the full report here.

If the most important value in healthcare isn't outcomes, then can there be any mystery as to why the debate over services, quality, delivery and who pays is so rancorous in this country?

There’s much more to the Quintiles report than this one question, but it certainly seems to capture the heart of the debate.

What’s Job One? Improving health or saving money?

Quintiles asked the question this way: “In your own words, how would you describe ‘value’ in healthcare? Please be specific.”

Biopharma executives’ priorities:

  • Cost and outcomes, 38 percent
  • Costs, 30 percent
  • Outcomes, 23 percent

Managed care providers:

  • Costs, 43 percent
  • Costs and outcomes, 23 percent
  • Outcomes, 13 percent


  • Costs, 40 percent
  • Costs and outcomes, 19 percent
  • Outcomes, 10 percent


  • Costs, 30 percent
  • Outcomes, 4 percent
  • Costs and outcomes, 2 percent
  • Not sure: 31 percent

Quintiles works with drug developers worldwide, so the company is obviously concerned about how the industry perceives the value question. But with so many different perceptions about what is "value," it's clear the challenges to providing better healthcare are more than ever based on the view of the "stakeholder" groups, as Quintiles describes them.

The bottom line?

"The gaps we are seeing in the new report suggests that these constituencies need to be aligned and working together if we are to truly improve healthcare in this country," said Jay Norman, president of consulting at Quintiles, in his own summary of the report.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Plenty Coups May 24, 2011

    Return-"How does a nation of 300 million people and 14 trillion dollars in debt pay for what would be an astronomical expense and growth of government? Look around you. We cant even afford or manage the bloated programs we have now."
    We are 14 trillion dollars in debt but we are also the richest country in the world with historically low tax rates right now. An easy fix is to raise the tax rates to Clinton era levels. (the last time we had a surplus)That would be a good start. I posted earlier a link to the varied reasons why our health care system is the most expensive. A bipartisan committee that isn't concerned w/ party rhetoric could find a solution. But thats not so. What we have now isn't working, yet when anyone tries to find a fix, doing what works good in other countries, they're attacked. You have to keep an open mind.

  • veyor May 24, 2011

    I'm sure that people who put down cost as their main concern were saying that if it costs more than can be afforded then there would be no care at all, good or bad. This article is simply a clandestine effort by the media to take old people off of medicare.

  • pat7 May 24, 2011

    I will say it again people. Put Obama and the people who want a national health care ,On the same thing they want to pass down on us ,They will not do that because they have a special insurance plan ,Cutting edge technologies that we will never get and they get it for free on the taxes payers back ,And also their pay check for the rest of their living years too People we are so badly taken advantage of by them and some people think we got good change Re-think America

  • crml May 24, 2011

    I recently took my little girl to an ER because I thought she may have a hairline fracture in her arm. They took bad x-rays that they couldn't read so they weren't sure. They put her arm in a splint and told us to see a specialist the following week (this was a saturday night). Cost? $2500 for nothing. Specialist was amazed at horrible x-ray quality but said her arm was fine.

  • Mark Hayes May 24, 2011

    With all the attention being given and concerns with medicare and medicaid the fact that there are many receiving medicaid who are not legally in this country to qualify there should be a more stringent means to verify ones elgibility eventually the cost trickles down to the citizans of this country,if there is going to be changes in our health system then this issue should also be addressed,knowing people in the medical field who themselves have to pay for services and health care insurance question this program as they see it abused on a daily basis it's not right to just waste our tax dollars on programs to accomadate these people no other country in the world makes this service available.

  • CestLaVie May 24, 2011

    The most "value" for me is for any of the medical & pharma industries to stay OUT of my life. Neither heal anyone, but mostly only put bandaids on sickness & disease, through their surgery & drug modalities, to relieve symptoms.

    Got a cold? Go to the doctor & get a drug. Not feeling better? Go to the doctor & get a new drug. Now you feel drugged & sleepy but still have this continuing cough? Go to the doctor & get another new drug. Can't seem to get rid of the cough? Feels deeper in your chest? Go to the doctor. Go to the hospital for tests. Stay in the hospital due to pneumonia.....more drugs & their side effects. Etc., etc., etc., etc.

    Trumped up? I don't think so. Try some rest, some sunshine, an immediate focused eating plan of fresh, raw veggies & fruits, fresh veggie & fruit juices, & add some beans, seeds & nuts in daily. NOW you are healing your body, instead of continuous feeding of toxic food & drugs. So amazing most don't see it or want to.

  • No Party Affiliate May 24, 2011

    "One of the problems I have with our system is that you pay for a visit to a doctor"

    God forbid you actually pay for a service you use.

    Lets look at what you are paying for...the receptionist who puts you on a list, the Resident who looks at you first, the Doctor who takes the Resident information, the building, the medical insurance to pay for lawyers suing, the licenses doctors, residences and fellows have to pay after they paid for education, the financial people's bonus', plus doctor bonus', chairman's bonus', research and development plus thier bonus', other no paying on insurance people, etc... the list goes on and on down the the cleaning staff.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC May 24, 2011

    "And yet you believe that the government should regulate the practice of women’s health and what medical procedures she can and cannot engage in private with her doctor?"

    Yes, one is protecting the life of an unborn baby. Stopping the murder of a child and protecting their rights is the job of the government, not providing cradle to grave service.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC May 24, 2011

    "The number of times I have told the physician what is likely to be wrong with me (and been correct) is lamentable."

    And yet you keep on going back. Isn't that the defintion of insanity.

  • Return of Finz May 24, 2011

    Plenty Coups

    How does a nation of 300 million people and 14 trillion dollars in debt pay for what would be an astronomical expense and growth of government? Look around you. We cant even afford or manage the bloated programs we have now. Reality just doesn't come into the picture with people like you.