Rationale, aims, and objectives: In recent years, several expensive new health technologies have been introduced. The availability of those technologies intensifies the discussion regarding the affordability of these technologies at different decision-making levels. On the meso level, both hospitals and clinicians are facing budget constraints resulting in a tension to balance between different patients' interests. As such, it is crucial to make optimal use of the available resources. Different strategies are in place to deal with this problem, but decisions on a macro level on what to fund or not can limit the role and freedom of clinicians in their decisions on a micro level. At the same time, without central guidance regarding such decisions, micro level decisions may lead to inequities and undesirable treatment variation between clinicians and hospitals. The challenge is to find instruments that can balance both levels of decision making.
Discussion: Clinicians are becoming increasingly aware that their decisions to spend more resources (like time and budget) on 1 particular patient group reduce the resources available to other patients. Involving clinicians in thinking about the optimal use of limited resources, also in an attempt to bridge the world of economic reasoning and clinical practice, is crucial therefore. We argue that clinical guidelines may prove a clear vehicle for this by including both clinical and economic evidence to support the recommendations made. The development of such guidelines requires cooperation of clinicians, and health economists are cooperating with each other.
Conclusion: The development of clinical guidelines which combine economic and clinical evidence should be stimulated, to balance central guidance and uniformity while maintaining necessary decentralized freedom. This is an opportunity to combine the reality of budgets and opportunity costs with clinical practice. Missing this opportunity risks either variation and inequity or central and necessarily crude measures.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Clinical guidelines, Evidence-based medicine, Health care, Health economics
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/jep.12936, hdl.handle.net/1765/106140
Journal Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (Print)
Citation
Knies, S, Severens, J.L, & Brouwer, W.B.F. (2018). Integrating clinical and economic evidence in clinical guidelines. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (Print). doi:10.1111/jep.12936