Health Economics and Outcome Measurement (HEOM)

What is health economics?

This animated video, created by the Centre for Health Economics in York, helps to explain the health economist's role in healthcare decision making.
Although our demand for health care is infinite, health care budgets, such as budgets for the provision of treatments and services on the NHS, are finite.

This means that when a new treatment or service is proposed a decision has to be made about whether to fund it, and what treatments or services are displaced by its implementation. Health economics is essentially about providing information to decision makers to help them decide how best to spend their health budgets. 

It is important that the health economic information presented to decision makers is provided in a uniform way so that the cost-effectiveness of a treatment for cancer can be compared to a service for maternity care, for example. Health economists do this by presenting results as costs per "quality adjusted life years" (QALY). This ensures that the effectiveness of the treatment and how it affects patients’ quality of life are taken into consideration. 

The typical way of measuring quality of life is to ask the patient using a survey/questionnaire. Health economists use a special type of quality of life questionnaire known as a utility measure in order to collect this information from patients. Again, it is important that we use a uniform set of questions for comparability across different patient groups, diseases and services.

Health economics also takes into consideration fairness (equity) and equality. The health economist’s role in this is to provide information to the decision maker to try to ensure our health care systems are fair and accessible to everyone. 

In CLAHRC YH, the aims of the Health Economics and Outcomes Measurement theme are:

·       to increase the understanding of health economics and outcomes measurement in all aspects of healthcare 
·       to explore the methodology behind health economics and outcomes measurement to ensure it is as robust as possible and will stand up to scrutiny
·       to advise how best to collect the data which is required to provide evidence for decision making

The HEOM theme will also work with other themes in CLAHRC to analyse the cost-effectiveness of innovative treatments, providing evidence as to their efficacy to help decision makers choose whether an alternative treatment would be preferable. 

The overall aim of the HEOM theme is to improve patient care by providing healthcare decision makers with the best evidence possible to make the best choices for their patients

A more detailed description of the HEOM theme's objectives can be found here.