The cost‑effectiveness of unilateral cochlear implants in UK adults

Henry Cutler, Mutsa Gumbie, Emma Olin, Bonny Parkinson, Ross Bowman, Hafsa Quadri, Timothy Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Objective: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated its eligibility criteria for unilateral cochlear implants (UCIs) in 2019. NICE claimed this would not impact the cost-effectiveness results used within its 2009 technology appraisal guidance. This claim is uncertain given changed clinical practice and increased healthcare unit costs. Our objective was to estimate the cost-effectiveness estimates of UCIs in UK adults with severe to profound hearing loss within the contemporary NHS environment.

Methods: A cost–utility analysis employing a Markov model was undertaken to compare UCIs with hearing aids or no hearing aids for people with severe to profound hearing loss. A clinical pathway was developed to estimate resource use. Health-related quality of life, potential adverse events, device upgrades and device failure were captured. Unit costs were derived mostly from the NHS data. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis further assessed the effect of uncertain model inputs.

Results: A UCI is likely to be deemed cost-effective when compared to a hearing aid (£11,946/QALY) or no hearing aid (£10,499/QALY). A UCI has an 93.0% and 98.7% likelihood of being cost-effective within the UK adult population when compared to a hearing aid or no hearing aid, respectively. ICERs were mostly sensitive to the proportion of people eligible for cochlear implant, discount rate, surgery and device costs and processor upgrade cost.

Conclusion: UCIs remain cost-effective despite changes to clinical practice and increased healthcare unit costs. Updating the NICE criteria to provide better access UCIs is projected to increase annual implants in adults and children by 70% and expenditure by £28.6 million within three years. This increased access to UCIs will further improve quality of life of recipients and overall social welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-779
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Issue number5
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Cost–utility
  • Cochlear implant
  • Hearing aid
  • Hearing loss
  • Economic evaluation


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