Back to Overview Page
Measuring Health and Healthcare
We start our journey with some numbers and concepts - on health and healthcare.
Measuring health involves some typical statistics - on things like mortality (death)
and morbidity (illness). Health also includes our ability to engage in the activities
of daily living, and our ability to participate in the labor force, should we choose
to. Life expectancy is a summative measure of health.
We will use the term healthcare to refer to the provision of services to improve
health. Measures here typically count the number and kind of services, and the
cost of providing or getting those services. Many times these services result in
improved health, but not always. Incorrect diagnostic tests leading to surgery
is one example of where healthcare reduces someone's health. Hospital acquired
infections or errors in treatment are obvious other examples. Sometimes healthcare
services are benign, with no overt impact on health, but even here we worry about
the use of resources for some service that doesn't improve health.
Health policy weighs these questions of efficacy of healthcare services, access
to these services, financing, and ultimately the balance between national health
goals versus other important goals. We look to other countries for some clues on
the policy choices they made, and we can compare them to the United States.
Resources Used in This Session
- US Health, 2010 - published by the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC
Health Expenditures - published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
- World Health Report - published by the World Health Organization
Statistics - published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- "The Choices We Make" from
Who Shall Live by Victor Fuchs
- T.R. Reid, a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and others, narrates
an excellent video on different healthcare systems around the world. He has also
written a book on the same subject. I have not read the book, but imagine it
is very good.
- Copies of the Slides - International Comparisons