What is Health Economics?
SummaryHealth economics is a growing sub-discipline of economics and studies the allocation of scarce resources in health care.
Health economists study the workings of the health care system and the numerous private and social influences on health. They look at the supply and demand of treatments, and the benefits they provide. Health Economists are also often involved in clinical trials to ensure that data collected includes the valuable economic and quality of life information needed.
Health Economists can assist in writing evidence based Health Technology Assessments (HTA). This helps develop “value-for-money” data for marketing teams who in the UK, need to have sound arguments for NICE or the PCTs to spend the money.
In recent years a more standardised approach has developed, that allows comparisons of studies in different countries and across different areas of healthcare. This common structure involves explicit measurement of inputs (‘costs’) and outcomes (‘benefits’) . The two main benefits analysis methods used are Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) which looks at life-years gained, and Cost Utility Analysis (CUA) which takes into account quality of life.