The Challenges of Economic Evaluations of Remote Technical Health Interventions

Kennedy, Christine A.
April 2005
Clinical & Investigative Medicine;Apr2005, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p71
Academic Journal
There are many difficulties in applying standard economic evaluation techniques to health care services, and telemedicine services, being relatively new and diverse, pose particular challenges to evaluators. Blanket statements about the "cost-effectiveness" of programs cannot and should not be made. Indeed, the benefit of discussing CEA (cost-effectiveness analysis) ratios is in the comparison between programs and their alternatives. In the last few years attention has focused on the actual resource implications of existing and expanding telemedicine services such as teleradiology and telepsychiatry among others. Several Canadian case studies are available to illustrate various evaluation techniques and assumptions employed. Economic barriers to the diffusion of telemedicine remain; both with capital outlay costs and issues surrounding the reimbursement of physicians for telemedicine services. This paper reviews the main tenets of economic evaluations applied to health care services but uses case studies from telemedicine services to illustrate the possibility and importance of comparative analyses. Other broader policy issues of economic incentives and implications of reimbursement are also explored.


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