Purpose: Value-based medicine (VBM) unifies costs and patient-perceived value (improvement in quality of life, length of life, or both) of an intervention. Value-based ophthalmology is of increasing importance for decisions in eye care.
Methods: The methods of VBM are explained and definitions for a specific terminology in this field are given. The cost-utility analysis as part of health care economic analyses is explained.
Results: VBM exceeds evidence-based medicine by incorporating parameters of cost and benefits from an ophthalmological intervention. The benefit of the intervention is defined as an increase or maintenance of visual quality of life and can be determined by utility analysis. The time trade-off method is valid and reliable for utility analysis. The resources expended for the value gained in VBM are measured with cost-utility analysis in terms of cost per quality-adjusted life years gained (euros/QALY). Numerous cost-utility analyses of different ophthalmological interventions have been published.
Conclusion: The fundamental instrument of VBM is cost-utility analysis. The results in cost per QALY allow estimation of cost effectiveness of an ophthalmological intervention. Using the time trade-off method for utility analysis allows the comparison of ophthalmological cost-utility analyses with those of other medical interventions. VBM is important for individual medical decision making and for general health care.