A review of the economic tools for assessing new medical devices

Joyce A Craig, Louise Carr, John Hutton, Julie Glanville, Cynthia Paola Iglesias Urrutia, Andrew J Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas the economic evaluation of pharmaceuticals is an established practice within international health technology assessment (HTA) and is often produced with the support of comprehensive methodological guidance, the equivalent procedure for medical devices is less developed. Medical devices, including diagnostic products, are a rapidly growing market in healthcare, with over 10,000 medical technology patent applications filed in Europe in 2012-nearly double the number filed for pharmaceuticals. This increase in the market place, in combination with the limited, or constricting, budgets that healthcare decision makers face, has led to a greater level of examination with respect to the economic evaluation of medical devices. However, methodological questions that arise due to the unique characteristics of medical devices have yet to be addressed fully. This review of journal publications and HTA guidance identified these characteristics and the challenges they may subsequently pose from an economic evaluation perspective. These unique features of devices can be grouped into four categories: (1) data quality issues; (2) learning curve; (3) measuring long-term outcomes from diagnostic devices; and (4) wider impact from organisational change. We review the current evaluation toolbox available to researchers and explore potential future approaches to improve the economic evaluation of medical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical
  • Journal Article
  • Review

Cite this