Healthcare decision makers have the difficult task of making the choices that define our healthcare policies and practices. These decisions are never taken lightly and choices should always be backed by copious evidence. An economic evaluation (EE) is commonly used in healthcare cost-effectiveness analysis. For example, comparing two or more interventions to determine both their relative effectiveness and costs to see which is most beneficial.
Systematic reviews for economic evaluations (SREEs) are the process of gathering and synthesizing evidence to help answer a specific question. SREEs also help researchers identify gaps in research to help funders and researchers prioritize efforts and avoid waste.
However, the introduction of systematic review software for economic evaluations could alleviate some of these challenges and help improve the workflow for these types of reviews.
First, let’s take a look at the challenges of SREE
When it comes to using systematic reviews for economic evaluations, there are numerous factors that need to be considered. Both general systematic review and specific economic evaluation challenges occur that could put a wrench in workflows and limit the usefulness of this type of process.
Some of the most significant challenges include:
- General SR challenges such as “heterogeneity in populations, study designs, methodology and consistency of outcome reporting.”
- Lack of standardization across country-specific healthcare systems resulting in differences in delivery, cost, and payment of healthcare services.
- Lack of standardization on a study level resulting in contrasting modelling assumptions, analysis perspectives, and evaluation frameworks needed to satisfy the requirements of local governments.
All of these challenges contribute to the significant differences in heterogeneity of evidence, which makes something like meta analysis not typically possible.
What are the solutions?
With these setbacks, there are several suggestions to improve the process and make it so that SREE is a viable option for researchers.
The recently published review on SREE we looked at states a few solutions to these challenges. To summarize:
- Creating standardized, pre-piloted forms for data extraction that are also connected to data extraction tables.
- Only reporting on key assumptions and results-driven sensitivity analyses.
- Utilizing topic-specific checklists that enable reviewers to distinguish between QA, reporting, and justification.
5 ways systematic review software helps economic evaluations
- Software like DistillerSR enables users to completely customize their workflow and define their processes within the software. This means it’s amenable to any and every type of systematic review.
- Pre-piloted forms make it easy to manage conflicts and conduct dual screening to meet current recommended best practices.
- The platform enables collaboration, which improves efficiency and time/cost-saving.
- Software maintains an automatic audit trail and version control log, which further promotes transparency, helps reduce errors, and ensures proper procedures are followed.
- Artificial intelligence can help automate manual, time-consuming tasks such as literature search construction, study identification, deduplicating, citation screening, simple data extraction, and more. This further improves efficiency in the process.
The future of systematic review software for economic evaluations
As the demand for evidence-based research in healthcare grows, the need for fast and accurate economic evaluations increases along with it. Systematic review software is a great tool to help facilitate SREE in a way that adheres to standards, provides transparency, and efficiency to get the work done quickly and accurately.