The Price of Medical Research

UPDATED: This post was updated for 2017 to reflect new information and more examples. Enjoy!

Healthcare remains one of the greatest issues the U.S. faces today, with surmounting costs and many unknowns surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The lingering health insurance problem – prevalent long before the advent of ACA – is only one of those effects. The aging population is growing by the decade in the U.S., and with age comes greater susceptibility to illness, disease, and the need for healthcare. The cost of maintaining health in this nation, however, is undeniably higher than it should be. The United States spends more than any other country – $9,237 per person according to data gathered by the Global Burden of Disease Health Financing Collaborator Network. The effects of high medical costs include countless negative impacts on our lives and economy.

Medical bills received by patients are not just randomly devised numbers by hospital administrators who are placing estimated values on what they think the services provided are worth – quite the contrary. For example, a bill that charges $600 for a minor checkup and another $450 for a prescribed bottle of pills, which cost the manufacturer less than five dollars to make, goes back to the medical research or pharmaceutical companies.

The pharmaceutical industry has endlessly been the primary target for healthcare cost blame, but it’s not only them. They just happen to be the biggest players in medical research. Let’s remember that medicine applies to more than drugs and pharmaceuticals; devices, procedures, equipment, and tools used all count toward the cost of medical research, and thus what comes out of the patients’ pockets.

The medical research industry doesn’t set the cost of medicine, but they do bear the responsibility of allowing it to cost as much as it does. So, in the process of medical research, where does the high cost originate? Why is the industry allowing medical research to cost so much? In short, the costs arguably originate at the long-outdated technology and processes used in clinical research data collection.

In some cases, these research companies have little choice in the tools they use to accomplish their research. In other cases, making the jump to implement new tools that cut out parts of the data collection process can seem daunting. Those processes have been in place and unchanged for too long.

Whether the industry is ready for it or not, the world is forging ahead with new technology as tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon lead the way and make moves to disrupt healthcare in tremendous ways. The technology behind mobile operating systems, wearables, and more is poised to change the workings of the healthcare industry in its entirety.

Electronic Data Capture (EDC) for clinical research is no exception to this. As technology continues to evolve, sponsors, CROs, medical device manufacturers, and independent investigators need an EDC that will keep pace with the rest of their tools.  Clinical Studio, a fully-featured EDC platform, is one system that provides an overdue solution to begin attacking unnecessary high costs at their point of origin. Its competitive pricing makes it ideal for research teams of all sizes – number of users is not a factor in Clinical Studio subscriptions. Clinical Studio’s RESTful API also allows for seamless integration with external systems to help provide a more comprehensive, well-rounded clinical research process.

Making the switch to a more streamlined, cost-efficient EDC platform is far from a quick fix for America’s healthcare issue, but it’s a great place to start.