• Article

The effect of medical technology innovations on patient outcomes, 1990-2015 Results of a physician survey

BACKGROUND: Developments in diagnostics, medical devices, procedures, and prescription drugs have increased life expectancy and quality of life after diagnosis for many diseases. Previous research has shown that, overall, increased investment in medical technology has led to increased health outcomes. In addition, the value of investment in specific innovations, particularly in new pharmaceuticals or biopharmaceuticals, has frequently been shown through an evaluation of the associated health outcomes and costs. Value assessments for all medical technologies and interventions are an important consideration in current debates on access and affordability of health care in the United States.

OBJECTIVE: To identify practicing physician impressions of the historical effect of postdiagnosis innovations in medical technology on patient outcomes within the 8 health conditions that have the largest effect on health in the United States.

METHODS: National statistics were used to identify the 8 conditions responsible for the most mortality and morbidity within the United States between 1990 and 2014. A physician survey was developed for each major condition to obtain physician opinion on the extent to which pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, and surgical procedures contributed to improvements in postdiagnosis mortality and morbidity outcomes over the evaluated period. Respondents were provided with a fifth category, "cannot allocate," to account for postdiagnosis outcome gains resulting from other factors such as public health interventions.

RESULTS: The conditions identified as having the greatest effect on morbidity and mortality since 1990 were breast cancer, ischemic heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus infection, diabetes, unipolar depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lung cancer. After excluding other factors, physicians specializing in these conditions, with a mean of 21.4 years in practice, considered pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals as having the greatest postdiagnosis effect across all 8 conditions, with 56% of outcome gains attributed to this innovation category. Diagnostics was the second biggest contributor at 20%.

CONCLUSIONS: Physician perceptions indicated that attention should be paid to value assessments of innovative diagnostics, devices, and surgical procedures, as well as to pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, before goals for allocating health care expenditures among the different innovations are determined.

DISCLOSURES: Funding for this study was provided by the National Pharmaceutical Council, a health policy research group that receives its funding from biopharmaceutical manufacturers. Wamble is employed by RTI Health Solutions, which received funding from the National Pharmaceutical Council to conduct this research. Ciarametaro and Dubois are employed by the National Pharmaceutical Council.


Wamble, D. E., Ciarametaro, M., & Dubois, R. (2018). The effect of medical technology innovations on patient outcomes, 1990-2015: Results of a physician survey. Journal of managed care & specialty pharmacy, 1-6. DOI: 10.18553/jmcp.2018.18083

DOI Links