Opportunities and Barriers to the Development and Use of Open Source Health Economic Models: A Survey

Published Apr 2022


Pouwels XGLV, Sampson CJ, Arnold RJG. Opportunities and barriers to the development and use of open source health economic models: a survey. Value Health. 2022;25(4):473-479.


Objectives: Health economic (HE) models are routinely used to support health policy and resource allocation decisions but are often considered “black boxes” that may be prone to error and bias. Open source models (OSMs) have been advocated to increase the transparency, credibility, and reuse of HE models. Previous studies have demonstrated interest in OSMs among the health economics and outcomes research community, but the number of OSMs remains low.

Methods: We conducted an online survey of ISPOR (the leading professional society for health economics and outcomes research) members’ perspectives on the usefulness of OSMs and barriers to their development and implementation.

Results: Respondents (N = 230) included academics (27%), pharmaceutical (or related) industry representatives (23%), health research or consulting representatives (21%), governmental or nonprofit agency representatives (10%), and others (19%). Respondents were generally not familiar with barriers to the development and adoption of OSMs. Most agreed that OSMs would improve transparency (92%), efficiency (76%), and HE model reuse (86%) and promote confidence in using HE models (75%). The use of OSMs by health technology assessment authorities was considered a very important indicator of the usefulness of OSMs by 49% of respondents. Three-quarters of respondents perceived legal concerns and the ability to transfer data as important barriers to the development and use of OSMs.

Conclusions: Respondents believe that OSMs could increase the transparency, efficiency, and credibility of HE models, but that several barriers hamper their widespread adoption. Our results suggest that fundamental changes may be needed across the health economics and outcomes research community if OSMs are to become widely adopted.

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