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The Ethical Imperative to Invest in Medical Technology

The Huffington Post—June 2, 2010

By Helene Pavlov, M.D., FACR, Radiologist in Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery

Technology is fascinating, and can be quite addictive. We want our tools to be bigger, faster, with more Apps, more color, more depth and, of course, more cost. How does this idea relate to medicine?

Focusing on radiology and imaging technology, MR, CT and Ultrasound, for instance, there is a constant push to capture an image faster and with improved sensitivity and specificity. The ultimate goal is to diagnosis conditions as early as possible and to see smaller abnormalities with more clarity than was previously the case.

Even more exciting is that we are now investigating the ability to see what is not yet obvious to the eye. That means, we can now see non-invasively inside a joint. We are able to see intracellularly without surgery and without a needle stick. We can see cartilage deterioration and breakdown or tendon healing before it is evident to the naked eye or on a routine MR, CT or Ultrasound examination. Imagine the possibility of seeing more detail than if one opened the knee surgically or probed the joint arthroscopically.

Can we afford the cost to pursue new imaging tools? The effectiveness and eventual cost reduction and potential improvement in quality of life provided by these types of clinical investigations will not be evident in the short term. Can we afford the research? The real question to be asked is, can we afford not to keep moving the potential of imaging technology forward? If we do not pay now, if we do not cover these costs today, who will ultimately pay tomorrow? What cost do we place on the value of a longer and better quality of life?

Read the full article at huffingtonpost.com.


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