Business

Cost or cure? It depends who you ask

Posted May 24, 2011 8:32 a.m. EDT

— 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

Physicians:

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

Patients:

  • 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.