Health mobility: implications for efficiency and equity in priority setting
Adverse Health mobility is a statistical measure of inter-temporal fluctuations in health of a group of individuals. Increased availability of panel data has led to a number of studies which analyse and compare health mobility across subgroups. Mobility can differ systematically across patient subgroups, even if prevalence measured at one point in time is the same. There is a lack of discussion regarding whether health mobility is a relevant concept for resource allocation decisions. In this think piece, we explore whether and how health mobility is incorporated in cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA). CEA takes health mobility into account where it matters in terms of efficiency and -depending on treatment programs- either favours groups with low mobility or gives equal priority to groups of differing levels of mobility. However, CEA fails to take into account the equity dimension of mobility. There is qualitative research to suggest that some members of the public find that patient groups with low health mobility should be given priority even if some efficiency was sacrificed. Results also indicate that this may depend on the nature of the condition, the actual lengths involved and the magnitude of the efficiency sacrifice. Health mobility may also have political implications which affect resource allocation decisions, possibly in opposing directions. Further research is required to investigate the extent to which the public is concerned with health mobility, to determine conditions for which health mobility matters most, and to explore ways of how the equity dimension of health mobility can be incorporated into CEA.
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