Healthcare policy leaders internationally recognise that people's experiences of healthcare delivery are important, and invest significant resources to monitor and improve them. However, the value of particular aspects of experiences of healthcare delivery - relative to each other and to other healthcare outcomes - is unclear. This paper considers how economic techniques have been and might be used to generate quantitative estimates of the value of particular experiences of healthcare delivery. A recently published conceptual map of patients' experiences served to guide the scope and focus of the enquiry. The map represented both what health services and staff are like and do and what individual patients can feel like, be and do (while they are using services and subsequently). We conducted a systematic search for applications of economic techniques to healthcare delivery. We found that these techniques have been quite widely used to estimate the value of features of healthcare systems and processes (e.g. of care delivery by a nurse rather than a doctor, or of a consultation of 10 minutes rather than 15 minutes), but much less to estimate the value of the implications of these features for patients personally. To inform future research relating to the valuation of experiences of healthcare delivery, we organised a workshop for key stakeholders. Participants undertook and discussed 'exercises' that explored the use of different economic techniques to value descriptions of healthcare delivery that linked processes to what patients felt like and were able to be and do. The workshop identified a number of methodological issues that need careful attention, and highlighted some important concerns about the ways in which quantitative estimates of the value of experiences of healthcare delivery might be used. However the workshop confirmed enthusiasm for efforts to attend directly to the implications of healthcare delivery from patients' perspectives, including in terms of their capabilities.
Keywords: Capabilities approach; Economic evaluation; Patient acceptance of healthcare; Process utility; Quality of healthcare.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.