“To explore the prevalence of geographical variation in greater detail, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) made a research grant to Stanford health economics professor Laurence Baker. The focus was on elective treatments, including heart procedures, joint replacement, mastectomy, and vaginal birth after cesarean, where providing more information to patients could affect their decisionmaking around whether to opt for a certain treatment. His work revealed that rates of elective surgeries for a range of procedures in California varied widely depending on location, even after adjusting for areas with less-healthy populations, and noted that overuse is not always the issue; underuse can be a problem too.
“If gathering the data was the first step, making it useful was the second. Our goal was to present the research in a clear and compelling way to prompt policymakers and the medical community to question why their areas were outliers and take action to address these differences.”
To read the complete article, visit the Stanford Social Innovation Review website.