About this Research Topic

Manuscript Submission Deadline 28 February 2022
Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 26 August 2022

Many health systems seek to achieve the best health outcomes possible from a given budget. Thus, it is necessary to allocate resources as efficiently as possible.

Opportunity cost is a fundamental concept in economics, which can be used as a basis for determining the value associated with resource ...

Many health systems seek to achieve the best health outcomes possible from a given budget. Thus, it is necessary to allocate resources as efficiently as possible.

Opportunity cost is a fundamental concept in economics, which can be used as a basis for determining the value associated with resource allocation decisions. Understanding the value of an investment in health requires knowledge of the value of the next best alternative. However, in reality, it is impossible to know every alternative's value with certainty, so researchers have sought to develop methods to approximate opportunity costs of health system expenditure to support optimal decision-making.

Researchers have questioned the extent to which economic evaluation methods in health care adequately recognise the opportunity cost of decisions. Research in recent years has focused on identifying cost-effectiveness thresholds, which is one possible approach, and there remain many challenges and unanswered questions.

Recent research has focused on the cost-per-QALY (quality-adjusted life year) of investments in new technologies and the identification of cost-effectiveness thresholds. This is an important and growing area of research but is just one way of thinking about opportunity costs in health care. Other research has focused on understanding mechanisms for disinvestment in low-value care and real-world observation of decision-making behaviour in the context of constrained resources. This Research Topic will bring together disparate threads of research on opportunity costs in health care to overcome the remaining challenges and unanswered questions. The included articles will support the full recognition of opportunity costs in health care decision-making.

We seek methodological, theoretical, and applied research studies - both qualitative and quantitative - that support the overall purpose of the Research Topic.

There are many angles from which to research opportunity costs in health economics, and the scope for this Research Topic is broad. We will welcome submissions on cost-effectiveness thresholds, displacement, decision-making frameworks, and policy. Studies may focus on recognising opportunity costs in current methods of health technology assessment or explore alternative approaches such as multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) or programme budgeting and marginal analysis (PBMA). We seek research from various settings, including low- and middle-income countries, with different health care financing arrangements, including private insurance, social insurance, and tax-funded health care.

Chris Sampson is an employee of the Office of Health Economics, a registered charity and independent research organisation, which receives funding from a variety of sources including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. The other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.

Keywords: cost-effectiveness, opportunity cost, threshold, resource allocation, pricing, displacement, health technology assessment, efficiency


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