This video from ReasonTV shows you an interview with Glen Whitman about medical innovation in the US.
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Don't Break What's Working in Health Care Dr. Glen Whitman: We have to make sure that we don’t just fix the parts that are broken. We also have to make sure we don’t break the parts that are actually working very well. Ted: Hi, I’m Ted Balicker with Reason TV. Today, I’ll be speaking with economist Glen Whitman. Dr. Whitman is co-author along with Raymond Raad of the new K2 Institute Policy Analysis, Bending the Productivity Curve: Why America leads the world in medical innovation? Let’s get right into the key points of your study. What if you have to boil it down to a few of them, what were they? Dr. Glen Whitman: Everybody realizes that the American system of health care is very far from ideal and the real question is not whether we’re going to reform but how? But if we’re going to do that we have to make sure that we don’t just fix the parts that are broken. We also have to make sure we don’t break the parts that are actually working very well and it turns out that one of the areas that America is really great at is medical innovation. In fact, we lead the world in medical innovation whether it’s basic medical research or diagnostics or therapeutics. It turns out the United States leads the world, it’s ahead of any other country and often, greater than all other countries combined. Ted: I think what one thing—many things interesting about your study it’s not just where a big country with a lot of people. You compare the US against the EU plus Switzerland in a lot of cases. The EU plus Switzerland is has a lot more people compare to the US. Dr. Glen Whitman: That’s right. Europe actually has a population, a good bit higher than the United States. The European Union countries plus Switzerland have a combined population about 50% higher than United States. And yet the level of the innovation in the European Union in Switzerland is actually a good bit lower than other the United States. Ted: You also point to a lot of some common problems with international health care comparisons. A lot of them leave out this crucial factor of innovation. Dr. Glen Whitman: When people do international comparison of health care, they often look just at life expectancy or just infant mortality or some other measure of the health of the population. And of course you want to look at those things. But you also have to be looking at the level of innovation produced in different countries. The problem is that the innovation that the United States produces we bear the cost for that and that shows up in our co-statistics. And it’s one of the reasons that we end up spending more than other countries and yet the benefits of our innovation don’t just show up and our health care statistics. It will show up in every country, health care statistics or at least those of the countries that actually use the innovations that we create which is most of them especially the developed countries. Ted: You looked at a variety of different ways. You can—how do you slice innovation, you can slice in a bunch of different ways. One is for instance, Nobel Prize winners. Correct? Dr. Glen Whitman: It turns out that United States has had more Nobel Prize winners in the area of medicine and physiology than all other countries combined. And this is as if you measure it by the individuals who’ve received it or the number of years in the last 40 years or so that an American has have been among the recipients. Ted: And another thing you guys did was look at not just all innovations but according to a wide survey of doctors, what they regard as the most important innovations and what do you find in that regard? Dr. Glen Whitman: If you look at the list of innovations, meaning both treatments and drugs, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics that doctors tend to agree are the most important innovations of the last 30 to 40 years. It turns out that many of those innovations came from the United States. In fact, more from the United States than came from the European Union and Switzerland c