Economic considerations in the care of patients with head and neck malignancies
Head and Neck Neoplasms
In an era of cost-consciousness and managed care, quality concerns practice variability attributed to nonmedical factors, and growing attention to outcomes research, there is increasing interest in the economics of malignant disease. This review explores economic issues pertinent to the management of patients with head and neck malignancies. Using economic principles to evaluate medical practice does not uniformly mean that less money should be spent; rather, the intention is to optimize efficiency in the use of limited resources. Accordingly costs are best evaluated in the context of other outcomes of interest. The available economic literature for head and neck tumors is limited; it is often compromised by the use of facility charges as a proxy for true costs and the adoption of a truncated economic perspective. Given the potential health policy implications of such studies, their methodologies and results warrant careful scrutiny. Many opportunities exist for further research.