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November 17, 1999

Medical Innovation and the Critical Role of Health Technology Assessment

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Medical Technology and Practice Patterns Institute, World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Health Technology Assessment, Bethesda, Md (Dr Perry); and Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md (Dr Thamer).

JAMA. 1999;282(19):1869-1872. doi:10.1001/jama.282.19.1869

In the last 50 years, technological innovation in medicine and health care has accelerated at an unprecedented rate. Many developments, such as DNA testing for genetic disease, reproductive technologies, and technologies used at the end of life, raise serious and complex medical, ethical, legal, economic, and social concerns. Unfortunately, the United States has no formal mechanism to study these problems or to provide guidance to policymakers, the medical community, the public, and others in addressing these issues. Since medical technologies are believed to be a major driver of increased health expenditures and, thus, an object of cost containment, as well as a guarantor of quality in the US health care system,1 national leadership is required to balance these potentially ambivalent tendencies.