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Peter R. Orszag

Improve Health Care: Track Artificial Hips

Is it worth spending $150 billion a year on implantable devices? Let's find out.
Hips of steel.

Hips of steel.

Photographer: David Silverman/Getty Images

To obtain better value for health-care dollars, it's important to evaluate in detail which ones are well-spent and which are not. The $150-billion-a-year market for implantable medical devices in the U.S. -- which includes everything from artificial hips to pacemakers -- is a good illustration of this challenge and how to meet it. 

Examining how well devices are working requires knowing where each one goes. Without tracking, it's difficult to find out which patients do better with one kind of device, and which ones are better off with another kind.