Improvement Science and Research Methods seminar: A journey through health economics with Prof Dr Darrin Baines

brayford_arc1In the latest in our series of Improvement Science and Methods seminars hosted by CaHRU on Tuesday 24th of June Prof Darrin Baines guided us on a ‘Journey through Health Economics’. Prof Baines was previously Associate Professor in Health Economics at the University of Nottingham and was recently appointed as Professor of health Economics at Coventry University. In his talk Dr Baines showed the different economic measures available and how we should interpret them.

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index_5The first stop of this journey was the cost benefit ratio. We were asked to consider what the ratio expresses: the price of a unit of benefits, or something we are not sure about? Most of the audience were surprised when they realised there was not a clear answer. The second stop was a comparison between two ratios of costs and benefits. Are we comparing efficiency? Are we sure about what it really means? The answer again was not certain. The comparison of ratios sometimes also gives us strange results. The next stop on our journey was Incremental Cost Effectiveness Ratios or ICERs. As was pointed out, although this measure solves some of the problems of previous measures, it also presents other problems, for example, in that it uses effects instead of benefits (money). And that is health economics: it is primarily about effects, rather than about money. Health economics is the study of decisions in an imperfect world where there is uncertainty and heterogeneity.

Nevertheless, our speaker indicated we cannot stop there, and we cannot just measure ICERs. If we want to analyse and solve a problem, if we want to understand the problem in front of us, then, we need to model it. Dr Baines finished his talk indicating the current measures we should be using: net monetary benefit (where we turn health into money) or net health benefit (where we turn money into health).

This was a very interesting talk and those present were very engaged with the topic – there was a general feeling of enjoyment and curiosity to know more about this field.

Ana Godoy Caballero

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