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Healthy Savings: Medical Technology and the Economic Burden of Disease

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Assessments of the true cost and economic benefit of medical technology (in the form of devices and diagnostics) have been hampered by the fact that direct treatment expenditures associated with technology use can be readily measured, while indirect savings, for example avoiding emergency room care and reducing hospital stays, are more difficult to capture.

Equally important, the economic benefits of reducing the burden of disease through better diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and cures extend beyond the health system to GDP gains from increased labor force participation and productivity. These gains are generated not only by patients, but by the rising participation and productivity of their informal caregivers. Yet these dividends are rarely incorporated into the evaluation of medical technologies.

In this study, we take a systematic approach to documenting the full costs and broader economic benefits of investment in representative medical technologies used to address four prevalent causes of death and disability: diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal disease, and colorectal cancer. The medical devices and technologies analyzed for each of the four diseases examined are detailed in Table ES1.