Why health economics?
Cost-effectiveness is a necessary consideration across all research. Health economics provides a framework for measuring and evaluating cost and value of any health intervention or program – not only to the individual, but to society in general. Such considerations are particularly important when seeking government subsidies for listing new technologies and pharmaceuticals. The role of health economics is therefore an essential element which facilitates the translation of favourable clinical data into routine practice and patient outcomes.
The role of health economics has become increasingly important for a number of reasons, including pressure on health resources, the need to demonstrate economic implications within translation, the increasing array of technological interventions and an empowered consumer. Economic tools provide the means to address resource allocation consistently and explicitly for fair and transparent distribution.
Within Western Australia, capacity has been slowly building in recent years, although there is still a considerable shortage of skilled health economists. WAHTN has aided the health economics sector in WA by facilitating collaboration across institutions to maximise capabilities and by developing programs and initiatives to raise awareness about the role health economics plays through the Western Australian Translation and Collaboration in Health Economics (WATCHE) platform.
About the WA Translation and Collaboration in Health Economics (WATCHE)
The mission of WATCHE is to provide a platform to support capacity building in health economics through research, teaching and knowledge transfer. With the support of WAHTN the group has been successful in hosting the national health economics conference 2016; delivering a number of workshops and training opportunities; and supporting the inaugural Curtin Health Economics cluster meeting, which included international speakers and presentations from WATCHE early career researchers. WATCHE members undertake research at state, national and international levels and support evidence generation that can inform policy and clinical practice across the health system.
While the lack of resources in this area remains a barrier to the breadth required for optimal research input, the cooperation currently manifest will enable robust development through the encouragement of PhD students and further education in health economics. The WATCHE collaboration maximises locally available breadth and depth in expertise (which is vital in this rapidly expanding field) and the strong commitment to international partnerships ensures global relevance.
WATCHE facilitates regular meetings to encourage cross-institutional collaboration, discuss current systems and methodological issues in ongoing research projects. The group is also a forum to facilitate the development of research ideas and welcomes researchers from other fields interested in applied health economics.
Collectively, WA health economists have strong representation on national committees including the Medical Benefits Scheme Review Taskforce, the Medical Services Advisory Committee, Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, NHMRC panels for Partnership Centres, Centres for Research Excellence and Project Grants, alongside national and international health economics associations.
WATCHE Member Organisations
WATCHE was founded through a strong collaboration between Curtin University and UWA but has grown to encompass representation from across the WA research community (including Curtin University, UWA, Murdoch University, Telethon Kids Institute).
The Health Economics and Data Analytics (HEDA) group based in the Curtin School of Population Health at Curtin University provides the critical mass of health economists in WA with widely-recognised expertise across health systems and health economics, and is one of three teams forming the Curtin Health Research Data Analytics Hub. The group is also part of the Health Economics Cluster – a fusion of experts in economics, health economics, and health policy from Curtin Business School and the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University. The team conducts research that seeks to improve community health through enhancing system performance and sustainability and is committed to forging important and mutually beneficial partnerships with industry to maximise its research impact. Key industry partners includ the WA Department of Health, Western Australian Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), and WA Country Health Service.
Health Economics at Murdoch University is offered through the School of Business & Law. The Graduate Certificate in Health Administration, Policy and Leadership (GCHAPL) empowers individuals with basic skills and expertise necessary to become a leader in the ever-changing and fast-growing health industry to bring positive change to the health ecosystem.
Telethon Kids Institute is dedicated to conducting child health research that makes a difference to the community and has a strong background and track record in early childhood health research, evaluation and implementation. With a large concentration of top scientific research minds across several research specialities with world-class research facilities, the institute focuses on discovering the causes, cures and treatments to improve the lives of kids and young people. The Institute has important partnerships with Universities and industry stakeholders who are committed to high quality health services, and health economics research in WA and internationally. The Institute boasts of key collaborative networks with leading international pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Roche, SANOFI, NOVARTIS and GlaxoSmithKline, to name just a few.
Health economics at The University of Western Australia (UWA) comprises of a blend of experts resident in several schools. The Centre for Health Services Research (CHSR) conducts robust research that supports the promotion of community health through using linked medical and health research data. The centre also focuses on the evaluation of health services, patient safety, surgical care and pharmaco-epidemiology and boasts of a strong collaborative network that includes both domestic and international partnerships. The Business School provides a critical mass of economists with various research interests including health economics.
Other institutions across Western Australia are encouraged to join.