April 30, 2010
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The National Institutes of Health has awarded Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute a $427,593 grant to develop a dynamic model of the impacts of alternative investments in treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. The research will be led by Dr. George Miller, a researcher in Altarum’s newly established Center for Sustainable Health Spending.
Although focused on cardiovascular disease, the research will inform the larger policy question of whether there is value in increasing spending on disease prevention and health promotion. Despite frequent assertions that health spending inappropriately emphasizes treatment over prevention, there is little quantitative evidence that prevention is, on average, more cost-effective. The value of prevention is further complicated by what is known as “policy resistance,” a mechanism by which the benefits of a new prevention or treatment intervention are reduced because individuals believe that the new intervention has decreased the risks of unhealthy behaviors (for example, sedentary lifestyles are ok because of new blood pressure or cholesterol lowering medications).
Altarum will seek to create the first model to account for these many complex, interrelated factors in order to determine the optimal level of spending on prevention and treatment. The model will include downstream impacts of investments in research to develop new treatment and prevention interventions, while also incorporating the effects of policy resistance.
“Health care policy in this nation must be driven by facts and good science, not conventional wisdom,” said Lincoln Smith, President and CEO of Altarum Institute. “By looking at the benefits of spending on prevention versus treatment, this research will get at one of the most hotly debated questions in health care policy today.”
Altarum has already produced significant research on prevention and treatment. A ground-breaking study by Dr. Miller and colleagues demonstrated that the share of U.S. national health expenditures on prevention is much higher than commonly estimated, closer to nine percent of total health sending, rather than the more commonly cited figure of three percent.
The NIH grant will last through 2011, with preliminary results expected by the end of 2010.
Contact InformationJeff Moore
Altarum Institute (www.altarum.org) integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. A nonprofit serving clients in the public and private sectors, Altarum employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan with additional offices in the Washington, DC area; Sacramento, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.