Comparative effectiveness research is particularly important in oncology, where the cost of treatments is high, according to Andrew L. Pecora, MD. One approach to contain costs is to provide “rational care,” he adds, which means striking a balance between treating too much and too little.
One way to be more vigilant with costs is to be more selective about ordering tests. For example, PET scans are not helpful with immuno-therapeutics because seeing tumor growth can be alarming and does not change the treatment course. It is also important not to focus too much on the cost of the drug, says Pecora. If a more expensive drug results in fewer hospitalizations, it may provide more value and result in better outcomes.
The cost of therapy can be a barrier for patients, however. Gaining more knowledge regarding biomarkers will help oncologists know which patients are most likely to benefit from a particular therapy, he states. As more is learned, it will become easier to optimize utilization. Providing appropriate healthcare through precision medicine is affordable, Pecora adds.