Sunday, December 17, 2017

No wonder US healthcare costs are going through the roof !

The one things Americans are great at is marketing - and one of the reasons their healthcare costs are out of control is because they sell too many unnecessary medical tests and treatments !

A great example of this is the Foresight Carrier Screen marketed by Counsyl. US medical test manufacturers have realised that the trick to profitability is  not to limit their tests only to patients who actually need it, because this restricts the number of people the doctor can order it for . 

Instead , why not just get doctors to do the test for any couple who is planning to have a baby ? This way ,  their total addressable market becomes all the millions of couples who want to become parents, instead of just those select few who have a risk for having a genetic disease.

The marketing is slick - they sell to prospective parents, and prey on their anxieties; and in the litiginous US climate, it's very easy to get doctors to order tests - after all, they don't need to pay for these ! And it's temptingly easy to just tick off a check box on a fancy well-designed attractive form. The irony is that these tests are not needed  at all - which is why the results come back as normal for the vast majority ( as is to be expected for a screening test which is applied indiscriminately to a healthy population). Everyone is happy and reassured -  except for the poor patient who ends up footing an unnecessary bill, but has no idea what's going on, because everything is cloaked in esoteric genetic jargon !)

The latest "medical" study they are touting on their website to get more couples to push their doctors to order this test for them is being sold as a Landmark Study ! They know no one is going to bother to read the original JAMA article, where the conclusion was much more modest - " Conclusions and Relevance : In a population of diverse races and ethnicities, expanded carrier screening may increase the detection of carrier status for a variety of potentially serious genetic conditions compared with current recommendations from professional societies. Prospective studies comparing current standard-of-care carrier screening with expanded carrier screening in at-risk populations are warranted before expanded screening is adopted."

However, on their website, their marketing department has spun this as - The increased detection of affected pregnancies demonstrates the value of offering ECS to all patients, regardless of ethnicity !

Isn't  this deceptive advertising ?

The message to couples is also couched in very seductive terms  - The Counsyl Foresight Carrier Screen is a simple blood or saliva test that helps you learn your risk of passing down serious inherited conditions. Why would any couple refuse - after all, no one wants a child with a genetic  illness ! And it's so easy to say Yes when you doctor tells you that you need the test , because he has not bothered to applied his mind, and has got swayed by the clever marketing collaterals Counsyl produces.

You can read more about the harm this causes to patients at

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