NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Leila Agha

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Working Papers and Chapters

March 2014Negative Tests and the Efficiency of Medical Care: What Determines Heterogeneity in Imaging Behavior?
with Jason Abaluck, Christopher Kabrhel, Ali Raja, Arjun Venkatesh: w19956
We develop a model of the efficiency of medical testing based on the frequency of negative CT scans for pulmonary embolism. The model is estimated using a 20% sample of Medicare claims from 2000-2009. We document enormous heterogeneity in testing conditional on patient population. Less experienced physicians and those practicing in high spending areas test more low-risk patients. Assessing the efficiency of current practices requires calibration assumptions regarding the costs of testing, the benefits of treatment and the likelihood of false positives. While we cannot tell whether any particular testing decision was mistaken in the context of our model, we find that collectively–given these additional calibration assumptions–there are systematic differences between doctor testing practices...

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