Economic Implications of Doggy Radiation Therapy
While I can understand that some patient advocates in England are finding the whole idea of sharing medical technology with animals rather distasteful, I personally think it's great. As long as humans aren't obligated to face reduced access because of the new plans, I don't see anything morally wrong with it. In addition, cleanliness routines can easily be adopted that should eliminate any problems in this area as well. And sad to say, there are many pets I know of with more impeccable hygiene standards than some patients I've been in contact with.
What I think is most intriguing about the whole idea are the healthcare finance implications. It will be pretty interesting to see what kind of fee differential there will be for XRT services between humans and pets.
In a way, this is a perfect example of what epidemiologists refer to as an "ecological experiment". Such an experiment is a study that is based on a constellation of fortuitous circumstances in the real world that can be analyzed in such a way as to answer questions of academic importance.
If one wishes to know the impact of third party payers on price in a healthcare system, this is one great model with which to study it. The equipment is the same and one would therefore expect the capital costs to be about the same. The technician salaries are most likely no different. Certainly the record-keeping, privacy provisions and malpractice overhead is higher for humans than for pets but one would think that a rigorous analysis could easily factor those differences out. Likewise, any differences between physician and veterinarian fees can be isolated from the analysis as well.
So it would appear that unless the NHS has started covering pets, the only thing that'll be significantly different will be the lack of a third party payer!
I'm thinking that the calculated price per unit treatment will be less for the pets because the hospital will be limited to charging only what pet owners will be willing to pay out of pocket. For humans there is virtually unlimited demand because someone else will be footing the bill. I for one will be very interested in seeing how the price structure of this little fiscal adventure plays itself out.
Of course my guess presupposes that people care more about their own health than about the health of their pets. This must be considered an unproven assumption!