Addressing the allocation of economic resources means confronting the concepts of effectiveness, efficiency and effectiveness.
Thus, effectiveness must be understood as the probability that a person in a specific population will benefit from the use of health services, whether they are technologies or services provided by professionals. In this concept, the benefit that technology brings to the resolution of the problems demanded must be included. Efficacy refers to ideal conditions that rarely occur due to the very nature of health problems.
In terms of effectiveness, we must understand this same environment for the application of health care, but in this case, under real rather than ideal conditions. Under this concept, effectiveness cannot be generalized because it obeys specific scenarios that differ from one another.
Faced with these concepts, we must situate efficiency, which can be defined as the results obtained in health, in direct relation to the resources consumed to obtain these results. Efficiency, despite being a relative concept, is extremely useful since efficiency refers to a result obtained as opposed to another that may be due to the same problem approached in different ways. In addition, we must distinguish two different aspects of efficiency. Thus, productive efficiency will be achieved by minimizing costs, which generates an elimination of the consumption of unnecessary goods and services. On the other hand, allocative efficiency is distinguished, being the one that guarantees that the available sanitary services cannot offer a greater well-being being distributed in an alternative way.
However, the literature describes some problems when considering economic efficiency in the health field. On the one hand, we find it difficult to explain the opportunity cost, which may imply that resources are dedicated to one patient over another for reasons of cost and health benefit. On the other hand, there is the lack of knowledge and the capacity to accurately specify the efficiency and effectiveness of health procedures, due to the variability of the different contexts we face. Medical ethics can also interfere, depending on the people or situations decide a series of actions that may well be contrary to the reasons of cost benefit.
These are situations that may also occur, the incentives that we may find ourselves in due to the health market or in this case due to the failures of the health market, which lead us to inefficient allocations. Another situation is the dysfunction between the different parties involved in the healthcare market, in which, depending on the different organisational cultures, they may understand one situation or another as ideal, regardless of health cost-benefit considerations.