KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration Focuses On Data-Driven Results In Health Care

NPR reports the budget office's use of pedometers to encourage employees to do more physical activity exemplifies "the Obama administration [reliance] on intensive data-gathering to help mold behavior." Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, says "'[w]hen you measure something and have a competition surrounding it, it creates a strong incentive to do more of it.' … Whether it's health care, education or even the war in Afghanistan, the president and his team are big believers in the power of information."

The emphasis on data is evident in Obama's approach to health care. He "told the American Medical Association last summer that part of what ails the country's health care system is a lack of data. … 'We're not doing a very good job harnessing our collective knowledge and experience on behalf of better medicine,' Obama said. 'Less than 1 percent of our health care spending goes to examining what treatments are most effective.' The administration is trying to change that, setting aside more than $1 billion to compare different medical treatments in hopes of learning more about which ones work best." Obama says good information alone will be enough to encourage doctors to do the right thing, but Gail Wilensky, "who works for the health education foundation Project HOPE … says policymakers may have to nudge people to actually follow where the data lead, not by outlawing less-effective medical procedures, but with gentle rewards and penalties" (Horsley, 1/1). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.