Monthly Archive for July, 2013

Medical Spending and Morbidity Compression

Evidence for Significant Compression of Morbidity In the Elderly U.S. Population
D. Cutler, K. Ghosh, and M. Landrum | NBER
July 2013
Using what is becoming a go-to-resource for health economists, Cutler,, use data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey to examine how health is changing by time period until death. On average, they find evidence for compression of morbidity, which would help contain health-care spending. But, they do not imply that decadents lived a disease-free period up until death.

Physician-Induced Demand

Physicians Treating Physicians: Information and Incentives in Childbirth
Erin Johnson and M. Marit Rehavi | NBER Working Paper, No. 19242
July 2013
[Abstract] [Paper]
This paper has a medical sounding title, but should be of interest to health economists as it sheds light on physician-induced demand for medical services. It should also be of interest to all researchers – very creative use of data. I shudder to think how long it took the researchers to assemble the file and go through the restricted data bureaucracies.

Cautionary Tale about Big Data Sampling

Is the Sample Good Enough? Comparing Data from Twitter’s Streaming API with Twitter’s Firehose
F. Martatter, J. Pfeffer, H Liu, K. Carley |
June 2013
[Abstract] [Paper]

These authors compare metrics based on the data one gets from Twitter’s free API vs the full universe (Firehose) and samples drawn from the Firehose. And, as an added bonus there is an excellent supply of references in this emerging field of big data/real-time data.

Death Certificates: Studies cast doubt on recorded cause-of-death

Making the Right Call, Even in Death
Lawrence Altman, MD | New York Times
July 1, 2013
This article discusses two studies, which illustrate problems with the recorded cause of death in death certificates.

The studies, published in the May issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, support what researchers have long suspected: that heart disease is overreported as a cause of death, while diseases like pneumonia and cancer tend to be underreported. Equally disturbing, one of the studies suggests that the health system is far too cavalier about the accuracy of death certificates.

Survey of New York City Resident Physicians on Cause-of-Death Reporting, 2010
B. Wexelman, E. Eden & K. Rose | Preventing Chronic Disease
May 2013

Impact of a Hospital-Level Intervention to Reduce Heart Disease Overreporting on Leading Causes of Death
Teeb Al-Samarrai, | Preventing Chronic Disease
May 2013