Objectives: Ongoing developments in design have improved the outlook for left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation as a therapy in end-stage heart failure. Nevertheless, early cost-effectiveness assessments, based on first-generation devices, have not been encouraging. Against this background, we set out (i) to examine the survival benefit that LVADs would need to generate before they could be deemed cost-effective; (ii) to provide insight into the likelihood that this benefit will be achieved; and (iii) from the perspective of a healthcare provider, to assess the value of discovering the actual size of this benefit by means of a Bayesian value of information analysis.
Methods: Cost-effectiveness assessments are made from the perspective of the healthcare provider, using current UK norms for the value of a quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). The treatment model is grounded in published analyses of the Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure (REMATCH) trial of first-generation LVADs, translated into a UK cost setting. The prospects for patient survival with second-generation devices is assessed using Bayesian prior distributions, elicited from a group of leading clinicians in the field.
Results: Using established thresholds, cost-effectiveness probabilities under these priors are found to be low (∼.2 percent) for devices costing as much as £60,000. Sensitivity of the conclusions to both device cost and QALY valuation is examined.
Conclusions: In the event that the price of the device in use would reduce to £40,000, the value of the survival information can readily justify investment in further trials.