What is value based healthcare and why is it relevant?

May 10, 2019

“What is value based healthcare and why is it relevant to the NHS?” is a question I have been asked countless times since becoming the coordinator of the healthcare value short course. For our students, who spend a whole week exploring the ins and outs of value-based healthcare and its relationship to evidence-based healthcare, the answer may seem obvious. But for the GP, the academic, the hospital manager, the finance director, the acute specialist doctor who want to know why they should be interested, a short but comprehensive explanation that makes sense in the NHS (like the classic definition of EBM) is missing.

Almost everybody in the NHS could give you an example of how they think resources could be better used to improve outcomes and experiences (through reallocation or better practice), but the NHS doesn’t yet talk about value as part of daily business. This, in part, may be due to the lack understanding of what value-based healthcare means for the NHS and why it matters.

To answer this question we organised a stakeholder workshop with patients, academics, clinicians and NHS leaders all with an interest in value-based healthcare. Based on the workshop we published a CEBM report: Defining Value-based Healthcare in the NHS that proposes a definition of value-based healthcare drawn from the pooled expertise at the workshop event and the literature.

Value-based healthcare is the equitable, sustainable and transparent use of the available resources to achieve better outcomes and experiences for every person.

The report provides an assessment of the barriers to implementation and an understanding of what skills and training would support implementation. In it we share some case studies of value-based healthcare in the NHS in England and Wales and make seven recommendations to better embed value as a core focus.

We hope that this report will support the growing movement towards value-based healthcare in the NHS and provide an answer to the questions that patients and staff in the NHS may have about what it is and why it matters to them.

Hurst L, Mahtani K, Pluddemann A, Lewis S, Harvey K, Briggs A, Boyle A, Bajwa R, Haire K, Entwistle A, Handa A and Heneghan C. Defining Value-based Healthcare in the NHS: CEBM report May 2019. https://www.cebm.net/2019/04/defining-value-based-healthcare-in-the-nhs/

Louise Hurst coordinates the Healthcare Value short course part of the EBHC program

The course is for health and social care professionals and researchers who want to understand how they can make better use of the available resources to achieve the best possible outcomes and experiences for every person in the population.

Students are introduced to key concepts and methodologies relating to value in health systems, including: identifying unwarranted variation, understanding overtreatment, under treatment and measuring outcomes. It is a joint programme between the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Department for Continuing Education.

The Programme works in collaboration with CEBM in Oxford. The course runs over 8 weeks with one week of teaching based in Oxford. https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/healthcare-value

1     Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, et al. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ 1996;312:71–2.



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