Will Americans accept a trade-off in medical accuracy for lower costs?

With so much focus on health care costs, it’s important to consider the mindset of the American patient.

The Wall Street Journal asks whether simple, less expensive, health care strategies that work in developing countries can be implemented Stateside.

For example an AIDS clinic in Alabama, by mimicking a similar program in Zambia, decreased its no-show rates by giving prompt appointments and interviewing patients looking for reasons why they may not come back.

It appears to make all the sense in the world, until you actually ask the American patient that trade-offs may need to be involved. Consider this crucial question: “Will an $8 device that conducts ‘a critical blood test’ in six minutes time with 90% accuracy, which will be used in India, Brazil and several African nations, supplant the $50 machine used in the U.S. whose accuracy is 97%?”

The answer appears to be, likely not. Indeed, as this maker of such low cost devices says, “In the developing world, people are willing to make the trade-off in accuracy for simplicity and low cost. In the U.S., that kind of trade-off is a hard sell.”


✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories