What’s the price tag on your health?

In chapter eight of their book, The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, the authors Prof. Dr. Elgar Fleisch, Christoph Franz, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann discuss value-based medicine.

The authors look at some of the reasons for why value-based medicine – or outcomes-based medicine – is being introduced around the world in the face of rising healthcare costs. For instance, if outcomes are tied to a provider’s compensation, the provider is likely to be more invested in working with the patient to identify a suitable and affordable treatment.

Fleisch et al. look at how digitalization can be integrated into value-based care, creating increased transparency and collaboration between different providers and the patient. The authors cite the example of the US “Oscar” App which provides a concierge service to patients, as well as price comparisons to help patients take an informed decision about their treatment. This approach helps patients access healthcare at an affordable price.

Another approach linked to value-based care are lifestyle rewards since research studies demonstrate a link between moderate exercise levels and a reduction in care costs. In Switzerland, CSS insurance offer a fitness tracker which rewards customers with a small monetary incentive for every day on which 7’500 steps are completed. Similarly, the US company Omada Health uses the pay for performance model in the form of an app to work with companies wishing to support their employees with becoming healthier. The authors look at research-backed ways of encouraging patients to adapt a healthy lifestyle, concluding that “any incentive programs should ideally trigger intrinsic motivation (pp. 173).”

An important question discussed by Fleisch et al. is how to quantify the value of medical treatments. For instance, in the UK, NICE take into consideration how a treatment impacts on “quality-adjusted life years“(QALY). Finally, Fleisch et al. look at value-based care in contrast to innovative but expensive treatments such as gene therapy and immunotherapy.

There are many difficult questions connected to tying a price to a specific treatment outcome, and the authors look at a number of promising trends in focusing on increasing value and transparency for patients. If you would like to learn more about the topic, the English version of the book, “The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System is available online and in book shops (see references below).

Fleisch, E., Franz, C. and Herrmann, A. (2021). The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78756-676-7. doi.org: 10.1108/978-1-78756-675-020211015. Learn more here.

Fleisch, E., Franz, C., Herrmann, A., Mönninghoff, A., Die digitale Pille: Eine Reise in die Zukunft unseres Gesundheitssystems, Campus Verlag: Frankfurt a.M., Deutschland. Learn more here.

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