The medical marketplace and the diffusion of technologies

Health Care Analysis 4 (4):321-324 (1996)
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Abstract

This brief review of the efficacy, safety, and costs of IVF demonstrates that this procedure has become accepted medical practice without adequate scientific assessment. Its rapid proliferation especially in the market-oriented USA system, has preceded the type of outcomes research that is essential in order to protect both individual patients and the health care system. In addition, concern over the psychological costs borne by the vast majority of women who unsuccessfully pursue pregnancy through these techniques should warrant a level of caution which to date has not been forthcoming. The demand for pregnancy, the organisation of medical specialties surrounding these procedures, the open-ended reimbursement and incentive structure, and powerful market forces make it unlikely that IVF and a whole range of medical technologies can be regulated without some semblance of a national health system. These findings clearly reinforce the themes raised by the Radical Statistics Health Group and illustrate some of the weaknesses of a market approach to medical care

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