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Experts brainstorm ways to safely reduce health-care costs

Earlier this month, close to 200 heavy-hitters in academics, government and the private sector assembled at Stanford to discuss health-research policy. The ultimate goal of the event, which was co-hosted by Stanford's Clinical Excellence Research Center and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was to help guide the White House in developing policy changes to improve health care and its affordability.

As reported by my colleague yesterday, recommendations that emerged from the day-long summit included:

  • Leveraging information within electronic medical records by creating incentives for health-care providers and insurers to make privacy-protected patient data widely and easily accessible to researchers.
  • Creating more flexible research funding categories and regulatory "safe havens" that encourage the testing of unconventional health-care delivery innovations.
  • Stimulating commercial investments in cost-saving medical devices by linking insurance reimbursement levels to the incremental value they deliver.
  • Reinventing patient consent forms to be more relevant to new ways of safely conducting medical research, such as analyses of previously collected biological specimens or of health-care quality improvement programs.

I like the way participant Mark Hlatky, MD, a professor of health services research and of medicine at Stanford, put it: "While there is no single silver bullet for our inefficient health-care system, this event suggested a number of ideas that could synergize such that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts."

Previously: Making health care better and more affordable, Stanford expert urges physicians to take the high road in slowing health care spending, How can we slow growth of U.S. health-care spending? and New Stanford center to address inefficient health care delivery

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