The New York Times has a great piece on their Upshot blog about assessing value when it comes to testing and treating cancer. It can be very challenging to measure whether the money we spend on health care is providing good return, making a meaningful improvement for patients.
We want every dollar we spend to help people live longer and higher-quality lives. However, when data of survival rate is examined, it may lead to inaccurate conclusions about the effectiveness and worth of a test or treatment.
The Upshot expands upon Why Survival Rate Is Not the Best Way to Judge Cancer Spending. Dr Carroll explains how statistics - particularly the parameter of 'survival rates' - can mislead us into thinking we are helping patients, but because of lead-time bias and overdiagnosis bias, what we are measuring as "success" is not actually translating into improvement for the patient. Our mis-guided spending is leading to the point where we do not have money to spend on more impactful interventions.
Read the article for clear explanations of these biases with illustrative examples, and consider that by focussing on the wrong measures, "we may be getting far less for our money then we think."