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Open Access Research article

The role of economics in the QUERI program: QUERI Series

Mark W Smith12* and Paul G Barnett123

Author Affiliations

1 Health Economics Resource Center, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Menlo Park, California, USA

2 Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA

3 Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA

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Implementation Science 2008, 3:20  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-3-20

Published: 22 April 2008

Abstract

Background

The United States (U.S.) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) has implemented economic analyses in single-site and multi-site clinical trials. To date, no one has reviewed whether the QUERI Centers are taking an optimal approach to doing so. Consistent with the continuous learning culture of the QUERI Program, this paper provides such a reflection.

Methods

We present a case study of QUERI as an example of how economic considerations can and should be integrated into implementation research within both single and multi-site studies. We review theoretical and applied cost research in implementation studies outside and within VA. We also present a critique of the use of economic research within the QUERI program.

Results

Economic evaluation is a key element of implementation research. QUERI has contributed many developments in the field of implementation but has only recently begun multi-site implementation trials across multiple regions within the national VA healthcare system. These trials are unusual in their emphasis on developing detailed costs of implementation, as well as in the use of business case analyses (budget impact analyses).

Conclusion

Economics appears to play an important role in QUERI implementation studies, only after implementation has reached the stage of multi-site trials. Economic analysis could better inform the choice of which clinical best practices to implement and the choice of implementation interventions to employ. QUERI economics also would benefit from research on costing methods and development of widely accepted international standards for implementation economics.