Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book explores organ transplant network, evidence-based decision-making

In an important and timely study of medical governance, La Follette School professor David Weimer explores a regulatory approach that delegates decisions about the allocation of scarce medical resources to private nonprofit organizations.

Cover of Medical Governance: Values, Expertise, and Interests in Organ Transplantation

In his new book, Medical Governance: Values, Expertise, and Interests in Organ Transplantation, Weimer assesses the performance of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, a private, nonprofit rulemaker that makes decisions about how to allocate scarce transplant organs. Weimer explores the development of rules for the U.S. organ transplant system and details the conversion of a voluntary network of transplant centers into the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

The book, published by Georgetown University Press, argues that the network provides a framework for implementing evidence-based medicine, especially in facilitating the integration of statistical evidence with the tacit knowledge of practitioners to develop rules that not only allocate valuable resources but promote effective treatment.

"It is difficult to imagine a public agency being as nimble and efficient in making evidence-based decisions as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network," Weimer says. "The network also is more accountable for promoting social values than private for-profit organizations.  For the United States, this model may be a desirable alternative in many applications to our current practice of relying on the for-profit sector and federal and state governments to allocate health-care resources."

Weimer is professor of public affairs and political science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a former president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. He is the coauthor of Organizational Report Cards; Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice; and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice.