InHealth awards two research grants to Stanford University

Separate studies to focus on advanced diagnostic imaging; medical technology development process

Washington, D.C., October 13, 2006 -The Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) has awarded one-year research grants to two teams at Stanford University. One will examine the socio-economic value of MRI and CT imaging technology. The other will document the current regulatory and commercialization processes required of new medical technologies. The grants, totaling $538,207, are part of InHealth's continuing research mission to bring objective data and perspective to understanding the impact of medical technology on patients and the health care industry.

The first study, "The Diffusion of Imaging Technologies, Health Care Costs and Quality," will investigate the relationships among the availability of advanced diagnostic imaging services, usage, patient outcomes and health care spending. The second study, "Medical Device Development Models," will document how medical devices are approved and enhanced, pre- and post-market, including the role of the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the study will clarify the different paths followed by medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotech products. Results from both studies are anticipated by fall 2007.

"Critical discussions about the nation's health care system should be based on objective data rather than political opinion. Our goal is to help uncover that data so that decision-makers have a fuller understanding of how to legislate and regulate in the health and economic interests of patients and their families," said Martyn Howgill, Executive Director of InHealth.

Examining the Growth and Impact of Advanced Imaging Technologies

Stanford investigators will look at the effects of increased availability of MRI and CT technologies on the cost and quality of health care and whether costs are offset by benefits. No such studies are currently available. The researchers will collect data from 1992-2004 on the availability of MRI and CT services in different regions of the U.S., insurance claims for these services, and the use and spending on other imaging services and medical treatments (e.g., non-imaging procedures and procedures prompted by imaging results). The team will then correlate the data to draw conclusions about the costs and benefits of imaging technology to society, particularly the relationships among expanded use of imaging, spending, quality and patient care.

According to Howgill, diagnostic imaging tests are vital for accurate and early diagnosis of disease and play a crucial role in determining which medical treatments are subsequently prescribed by physicians. Yet expenditures on imaging tests are a fraction of the cost of the care that is then provided. Howgill expects the study to have an impact on understanding diagnostic imaging's role in medical care and on regulatory policies that affect diagnostic imaging facilities.

Laurence Baker, Ph.D., chief of Health Services Research and associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford University Medical School, is the principal investigator. Scott Atlas, M.D., professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford, and Christopher Afendulis, Ph.D., a lecturer in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, are co-investigators.

Examining the Medical Device Commercialization Process

The device development study aims to examine how medical technology is brought to market, approved for use and subsequently enhanced over time. The team will build a model specific to medical technology, making clear distinctions from the drug development process. Researchers anticipate study findings will be of value to current and future government initiatives, such as the FDA's Critical Path Initiative to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of the regulatory process for public benefit.

"Medical devices require a broader range of development cycles than drugs to achieve full commercialization. This distinction can be ambiguous but it has a significant impact on the timely availability of safe and effective technologies for patients and practitioners," Howgill said.


John Linehan, Ph.D., Consulting Professor of Bioengineering in Stanford University's Program in Biodesign and the Department of Bioengineering is the principal investigator. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, Ph.D., co-investigator, is the Burt and Deedee McMurtry Professor of Engineering and Professor and Chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Paul Yock, M.D., also a co- investigator, is the Martha Meier Weiland Professor of Medicine and Mechanical Engineering (by courtesy) and Co-Chair of Stanford's new Department of Bioengineering.

The two new Stanford University grants represent the most recent research awards from InHealth to support studies exploring the impact of innovative medical technology on socio-econmic issues including patient care, quality of life and cost efficiencies. InHealth-funded research is currently underway by teams at Duke University, Harvard University/Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania.

About InHealth (

Launched in 2004, The Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that researches the social and economic impact of medical technology. InHealth is funded by unrestricted philanthropic gifts and funds research grants and educational forums. It adheres to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' principles of sponsorship.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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