Translating economic evaluations into financing strategies for implementing evidence-based practices

Implement Sci. 2021 Jun 29;16(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s13012-021-01137-9.


Background: Implementation researchers are increasingly using economic evaluation to explore the benefits produced by implementing evidence-based practices (EBPs) in healthcare settings. However, the findings of typical economic evaluations (e.g., based on clinical trials) are rarely sufficient to inform decisions about how health service organizations and policymakers should finance investments in EBPs. This paper describes how economic evaluations can be translated into policy and practice through complementary research on financing strategies that support EBP implementation and sustainment.

Main body: We provide an overview of EBP implementation financing, which outlines key financing and health service delivery system stakeholders and their points of decision-making. We then illustrate how economic evaluations have informed decisions about EBP implementation and sustainment with three case examples: (1) use of Pay-for-Success financing to implement multisystemic therapy in underserved areas of Colorado, USA, based in part on the strength of evidence from economic evaluations; (2) an alternative payment model to sustain evidence-based oncology care, developed by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through simulations of economic impact; and (3) use of a recently developed fiscal mapping process to collaboratively match financing strategies and needs during a pragmatic clinical trial for a newly adapted family support intervention for opioid use disorder.

Conclusions: EBP financing strategies can help overcome cost-related barriers to implementing and sustaining EBPs by translating economic evaluation results into policy and practice. We present a research agenda to advance understanding of financing strategies in five key areas raised by our case examples: (1) maximize the relevance of economic evaluations for real-world EBP implementation; (2) study ongoing changes in financing systems as part of economic evaluations; (3) identify the conditions under which a given financing strategy is most beneficial; (4) explore the use and impacts of financing strategies across pre-implementation, active implementation, and sustainment phases; and (5) advance research efforts through strong partnerships with stakeholder groups while attending to issues of power imbalance and transparency. Attention to these research areas will develop a robust body of scholarship around EBP financing strategies and, ultimately, enable greater public health impacts of EBPs.

Keywords: Cost-benefit; Cost-effectiveness; Economic evaluation; Healthcare financing; Implementation strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders*
  • United States