Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
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Digital online content package for "Cost measurement in value-based health care: a systematic review"

posted on 2023-01-20, 13:10 authored by Maura LeusderMaura Leusder, Petra Porte, Kees Ahaus, Hilco J. van Elten


Objective Although value-based healthcare (VBHC) views accurate cost information to be crucial in the pursuit of value, little is known about how the costs of care should be measured. The aim of this review is to identify how costs are currently measured in VBHC, and which cost measurement methods can facilitate VBHC or value-based decision making.

Design Two reviewers systematically search the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, EBSCOhost and Web of Science databases for publications up to 1 January 2022 and follow Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to identify relevant studies for further analysis.

Eligibility criteria Studies should measure the costs of an intervention, treatment or care path and label the study as ‘value based’. An inductive qualitative approach was used to identify studies that adopted management accounting techniques to identify if or how cost information facilitated VBHC by aiding decision-making.

Results We identified 1930 studies, of which 215 measured costs in a VBHC setting. Half of these studies measured hospital costs (110, 51.2%) and the rest relied on reimbursement amounts. Sophisticated costing methods that allocate both direct and indirect costs to care paths were seen as able to provide valuable managerial information by facilitating care path adjustments (39), benchmarking (38), the identification of cost drivers (47) and the measurement of total costs or cost savings (26). We found three best practices that were key to success in cost measurement: process mapping (33), expert input (17) and observations (24).

Conclusions Cost information can facilitate VBHC. Time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) is viewed as the best method although its ability to inform decision-making depends on how it is implemented. While costing short, or partial, care paths and surgical episodes produces accurate cost information, it provides only limited decision-making information. Practitioners are advised to focus on costing full care cycles and to consider both direct and indirect costs through TDABC.


This work was supported by Dutch ministry of health, welfare, and sport through grant number 330843.


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