Objectives: The aim of this paper is to develop a methodological framework to facilitate the application of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) for a comprehensive economic evaluation of disease management programs (DMPs).
Methods: We studied previously developed frameworks for the evaluation of DMPs and different methods of MCDA and we used practical field experience in the economic evaluation of DMPs and personal discussions with stakeholders in chronic care.
Results: The framework includes different objectives and criteria that are relevant for the evaluation of DMPs, indicators that can be used to measure how DMPs perform on these criteria, and distinguishes between the development and implementation phase of DMPs. The objectives of DMPs are categorised into a) changes in the process of care delivery, b) changes in patient lifestyle and self-management behaviour, c) changes in biomedical, physiological and clinical health outcomes, d) changes in health-related quality of life, and e) changes in final health outcomes. All relevant costs of DMPs are also included in the framework. Based on this framework we conducted a MCDA of a hypothetical DMP versus usual care.
Conclusions: We call for a comprehensive economic evaluation of DMPs that is not just based on a single criterion but takes into account multiple relevant criteria simultaneously. The framework we presented here is a step towards standardising such an evaluation.