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Cidav Z, Mandell D, Pyne J, Beidas R, Curran G, Marcus S. A pragmatic method for costing implementation strategies using time-driven activity-based costing. Implementation science : IS. 2020 May 5; 15(1):28.
Implementation strategies increase the adoption of evidence-based practices, but they require resources. Although information about implementation costs is critical for decision-makers with budget constraints, cost information is not typically reported in the literature. This is at least partly due to a need for clearly defined, standardized costing methods that can be integrated into implementation effectiveness evaluation efforts.
We present a pragmatic approach to systematically estimating detailed, specific resource use and costs of implementation strategies that combine time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC), a business accounting method based on process mapping and known for its practicality, with a leading implementation science framework developed by Proctor and colleagues, which guides specification and reporting of implementation strategies. We illustrate the application of this method using a case study with synthetic data.
This step-by-step method produces a clear map of the implementation process by specifying the names, actions, actors, and temporality of each implementation strategy; determining the frequency and duration of each action associated with individual strategies; and assigning a dollar value to the resources that each action consumes. The method provides transparent and granular cost estimation, allowing a cost comparison of different implementation strategies. The resulting data allow researchers and stakeholders to understand how specific components of an implementation strategy influence its overall cost.
TDABC can serve as a pragmatic method for estimating resource use and costs associated with distinct implementation strategies and their individual components. Our use of the Proctor framework for the process mapping stage of the TDABC provides a way to incorporate cost estimation into implementation evaluation and may reduce the burden associated with economic evaluations in implementation science.