Not An ‘Average Joe’ Patient? Your Healthcare Can Be In Trouble

People grow up believing that they are unique and special, but would you want to pass on that belief to your kids if you thought that being unique puts you at risk for not getting the medical care that’s best for you? Probably not.

As far as healthcare goes, we cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all attitude. This is where Comparative effectiveness (CER) comes into play, because it can have some pretty serious and far-reaching ramifications on healthcare policies and decisions that could affect you or your loved ones some day.

How many of us are really aware of the ultimate impact CER can have? Not many. On the bright side, having researchers develop volumes of information on the relative effectiveness of different drugs, devices and treatments can do wonders for patients in terms of care they receive from clinicians. It goes without saying that better information means better healthcare. We all want this, but there’s also a cautionary note here that cannot be ignored. We need to remember that the same research can be used as a cost-cutting tool as well by restricting access to medicines and medical devices. If policymakers decide to limit insurance coverage to those medicines that are less costly and adequately effective for the “average” patient, then what happens to the many patients who don’t fit into the “average” mold?

For a host of illnesses from heart disease to prostate cancer, this is a critically-important question. How can healthcare policy recognize the individual differences between patients and ensure that every patient can get the care they need? No two people are alike and this must not be forgotten or ignored.

The ‘myth’ of the average will be broken down this Friday, November 30 at a forum in Washington, DC hosted by the National Pharmaceutical Council and co-sponsored by Men’s Health Network. The session, called “The Myth of Average: Why Individual Patient Differences Matter,” presents a great opportunity to explore how health policy decisions can impact patient care. Top health experts and high-ranking federal officials will explain CER in detail at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. More information can be found at

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