Fee-For-Service May Introduce Treatment Bias in Radiation Oncology

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The write believes that the episodic reimbursement model might introduce bias among radiation oncologists who own their own treatment equipment.

Today’s article follows the money trail to expose a different form of bias: the kind that takes place when doctors own their own diagnostic and therapeutic equipment.

For people living with cancer, this kind of bias can have a particularly painful impact.


In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death, killing nearly 600,000 Americans each year.

It is also one of the most expensive sectors of U.S. medicine. The annual price tag for cancer treatment is projected to reach $173 billion by 2020, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Over the years, radiation therapy has not been immune to cost inflation. In most cases, the cost of this therapy is influenced by two things: (a) the radiation therapy machine and (b) the length of treatment. The treating physician determines both. And when that physician has a financial investment in the equipment he or she uses, it’s money — as often as science — that often motivates treatment decisions.

Let’s get one thing straight

Most doctors are mission-driven people who strive to do what’s best for their patients. Those who train for years to help people wouldn’t knowingly compromise a patient’s well-being for financial gain. But when doctors and hospitals make large capital investments in their own medical equipment, even well-meaning professionals tend to favor approaches that benefit their bottom line.

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Source: medpageTODAY's