How to measure QALY and costs

When measuring changes in the quality of life in relation to the cost of treatment, it is necessary to find out how these changes should be measured and to include all treatment costs in these measurements.

This is of course very difficult and it is not possible to find exact figures, but QALY, which is a rough measurement is internationally recognised and commonly used within the health sector.
The QALY measurement combines both quality and quantity, where one year of perfect health-life expectancy is set at 1. If a lifeyear is less than perfect it is set to between 0 and 1, depending on the quality of that year. Death is set at a value of 0.

If a treatment increases life expectancy by four years and each year is given a quality value of 0.6 then the end result is 2.4. If no treatment is given the person will live for one year with a quality value of 0.4, giving an end result of 0.4. The difference between these values 2.0 (2.4-0.4) is defined as the QUALY of the treatment.

When calculation expenditure, all costs must be taken into account from the first visit to the family doctor to the last time any medicine is taken by the patient. To get the cost/QUALY ratio you must divide total costs by the QUALY figure. If for example total costs have amounted to 80,000 Euro, cost/QUALY would amount to 80,000 divided by 2.0: 40,000 Euro.

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