Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The value of diagnostic information

The Value of Knowing and Knowing the Value: Improving the Health Technology Assessment of Complementary Diagnostics

Last summer the Office of Health Economics released an inspiring paper on the value of diagnostic information related to companion diagnostics and next generation sequencing genomic tests. I read it recently and its appproach sheds additional light on a difficult issue:
Traditional cost-effectiveness analysis conducted as part of HTA focuses on three key elements:
1. Life years gained
2. Improvements in patient quality of life
3. Cost-savings within the healthcare system (also called “cost-offsets”).
Elements 1 and 2 are often combined in the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) by HTA bodies.
Elements 1, 2, and 3, plus the cost of the technology, are then used to assess the  cost effectiveness of the technology.
The next element most often included is “productivity” or “time value”, reflecting gains and losses related to the value of the patient’s time either when receiving medical care or related to the impact of absenteeism or presenteeism due to illness. Another element - less commonly measured - is nonmedical cost-savings outside the healthcare sector, such as transport costs and family caregiving.
Based on our systematic literature review, we identified and defined five additional elements
related to the value of knowing and the value of information:
• Reduction in uncertainty - additional value from knowing a technology is more likely to work
• Value of hope - willingness to accept greater risk given a chance for a cure
• Real option value - the value of benefiting from future technologies due to life extension
• Insurance value - psychic value provided by invention of an innovative medical product and by the accompanying financial risk protection afforded by a new treatment
• Scientific spillovers - value due to other innovations that become possible once a new technology has been proven to work.
I have discussed many times such additional issues, specially the real option value. Unfortunately measurement of such items are not that easy. Anyway, it's good to take into account and let's hope new developments on this topic.

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