The LSE Companion to Health Policy
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The LSE Companion to Health Policy

Edited by Alistair McGuire and Joan Costa-Font

The LSE Companion to Health Policy covers a wide range of conceptual and practical issues from a number of different perspectives introducing the reader to, and summarising, the vast literature that analyses the complexities of health policy. The Companion also assesses the current state of the art.
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Chapter 11: Technology Diffusion in Health Care: Conceptual Aspects and Evidence

Victoria Serra-Sastre and Alistair McGuire


Victoria Serra-Sastre and Alistair McGuire 1. INTRODUCTION The relevance of technological change in the health care sector has received attention recently as it has become commonly accepted that this is the main component driving the increasing growth in health care expenditure. Technological change in the health care market over the past decades has been rapid, broadening the capacity of patient treatment. One manifestation of this technological change is the actual number of drugs, surgical procedures and medical devices that are introduced every year in the global health care market. However, the introduction of such innovations does not necessarily lead to instantaneous widespread diffusion and there is usually a lapse between an innovation introduction and its extensive use. The diffusion process plays a key role in that it delineates a change in preferences expected to modify the provision of health care services. Despite the significance of the diffusion process as the aspect of technological change that places the innovation into use, diffusion analysis in health care has not received much economic attention. The aim of this chapter is to provide a follow-up of the analysis of technology diffusion starting from the stylised facts that motivated the interest in technology diffusion. First, the chapter examines technology diffusion in the health care market, providing an overview of those aspects that characterise this context and presenting competing analytical structures. The conceptual and definitional aspects considered in this chapter refer to the different approaches that can be used to examine diffusion and the different types...

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